GRANOLA ENERGY BARS
Adapted from BAKING CHEZ MOI (Dorie Greenspan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
These better-than-store-bought snacks have all the ingredients I love granola, but they’re baked into bars. When I started making them, a friend advised using brown rice syrup instead of honey and brown sugar, and I’ve been grateful to her ever since. Available at supermarkets and natural food shops, the syrup does the best job of binding the nuts and oats—and getting the ingredients to bind is the most common problem with homemade granola bars.
As with granola, there’s no real hard-and-fast formula. You want to keep the 2 cups of old-fashioned oats as your base and to keep the total quantity of nuts and fruits at about 2 cups as well—these are the proportions that work best with the amount of syrup. Then choose whatever fruits and nuts you like most or have on hand. And, if you’d like to add chopped chocolate or cocoa nibs, pieces of candied fruit or chopped crystallized ginger, do it.
Makes 20 bars
2 cups (160 grams) old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) oats
½ cup (60 grams) slivered almonds
¼ cup (31 grams) raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup (35 grams) raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup (about 160 grams) dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, snipped apricots and/or cherries
½ cup (60 grams) shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup (158 ml) brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 7-x-11-inch baking pan (I use Pyrex) with parchment paper, allowing the edges to extend up all four sides of the pan, and butter the paper.
Toss the oats and almonds together on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds, give everything a stir and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the nuts and oats are lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the dried fruit, coconut and salt.
Bring the brown rice syrup and butter to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour the hot mixture into the bowl, add the vanilla, and stir until the granola is evenly moistened. Turn the sticky granola into the lined pan and, using a flexible spatula, firmly press it into a tight, even layer.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the surface of the granola is golden brown and shiny; if you gently poke the granola in the middle of the pan, it should still feel a little soft. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Using a silicone spatula or the back of a wide metal spatula, press down with authority, making sure to press against the entire surface. Cool for at least 3 hours.
Turn the granola out onto the rack, peel away the parchment and flip the granola onto a cutting board. Using a long heavy knife, cut crosswise into 10 strips, then cut each strip in half to make bars.
Serving: Cut the bars into bite-sized pieces and serve them alongside tea. If you’d like to turn these snacks into a great gift, wrap them in cellophane and bundle a few together with a ribbon.
Storing: Wrapped in parchment and then in plastic and kept in a cool, dry place, the bars will keep for at least 1 week at room temperature.