Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bars

I have a deep, abiding love for granola bars. Back in my school days, you could usually find a chocolate chip or S'mores granola bar in my bag for snack time, and even now, there's a big bowl of packaged bars on the kitchen counter.

However, I'd never made my very own from-scratch granola bars until today. I had it in my head that they were really time-consuming and messy, which is completely wrong. No, this was one of the easiest things I've ever made. 20 minutes of active work, one mixing bowl, a saucepan for the honey mixture, and an 8" baking dish for the finished bars. That's it!

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bar

Inspiration came from these Nonuttin' Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars at Whole Living. It's a very basic, very simple recipe, which means tons of room to customize. I added butterscotch chips and a hint of vanilla to mine.

Start out with a mix of quick-cooking oats and Rice Krispies.
Granola Bars - dry mixture

Get a small saucepan and combine some brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil.
Granola bars - honey mixture

Bring to a boil and dissolve the brown sugar.
Granola Bars - honey mixture

Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated.
Granola bars - mixed together

Press the granola into a parchment-lined baking dish.
Granola bars - pressed in pan

Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
Granola bars - topped

Let the bars cool, cut into 16 bars or squares, and EAT.
Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bar

Now, I'm pretty sure I cut these before they were fully cooled, because they fell apart a little bit. And I have to futz with the recipe just a tad, because they are really, really sweet for my taste. The honey and the brown sugar give these a flavor unlike anything I've ever had in a packaged granola bar. The sweetness is bright and fresh and natural, with that unmistakable crunchy-chewy texture from the oats and cereal, and then the chocolate and butterscotch chips... Sixteen of these beauties for less than the cost of one box of six store-bought ones? I like those numbers.

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bar

Chocolate Butterscotch Granola Bars

Adapted from Whole Living
Makes 16 bars

Nonstick cooking spray
1 3/4 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch baking chips

Prep an 8" square baking dish. Line the dish with two criss-crossing pieces of parchment paper (leave an overhang so you can pull your finished bars out of the dish easily), and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Set your prepped dish aside.

Place oatmeal and rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Heat, stirring, over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour over the oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and everything is well-combined.

Pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish. Let cool until it is cool to the touch, then press the mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips, and lightly press the chips into the granola mixture (not too hard, as the heat from the granola will make the chips a bit melty). Let the granola cool to room temperature and cut into 16 portions (either 1" by 4" bars, or 2" squares). The finished bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.

Nutrition facts for 1 bar: Calories 140; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g (9 %); Saturated Fat 1.8 g (9 %); Trans Fat 0 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g; Monounsaturated Fat 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg (0 %); Sodium 20 mg (1 %); Potassium 5 mg (0 %); Total Carbohydrate 21 g (7 %); Dietary Fiber < 1 g (3 %); Sugars 14 g; Other Carbs 2 g; Protein 1.6 g (3 %)