|Coconut Chocolate Chip Granola Bars|
So I started looking for good granola bar recipes. I've experimented with healthy versions - but, honestly, how healthy are they if they don't taste good enough to actually eat them?
This recipe from Three Many Cooks is the family favorite so far. A nice bonus is that it's really adaptable. You can add in and switch out granola goodies to make whatever flavor you want. I've made them with chocolate and peanut butter chips; chocolate chips, graham cracker bits and mini marshmallows; chocolate chips and almonds, dark chocolate chips (see what I did there?) and dried cherries; and this particular iteration - chocolate chips and coconut. (You can make these granola bars without chocolate chips - but if you do, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.)
Now, these are not "healthy" - but I think they are healthier than the store stuff. There's plenty of fiber, much less sodium, probably less sugar, and you can pronounce all the ingredients.
As usual, I've done a little adapting of the original recipe:
- The original calls for wheat germ. I didn't have any one time, so I used an equal amount of wheat bran. Works great, can't tell the difference.
- You can also skip the germ/bran all together. Still tasty.
- I add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients - boosts flavor just a bit.
- Sweetened condensed milk has its own distinct flavor, which can take over the recipe. So I add a bit of vanilla extract (or almond extract). It masks the milk flavor and brings a little more depth to the taste.
- When you want to get all fancy and customize your bars, just use the same amounts as the original recipe. The recipe can support up to 3 types of goodies (1/2 cup each) - more than that and there won't be enough sweetened condensed milk to bind it all together.
Do yourself a big fat favor - LINE YOUR PAN! These suckers are sticky and will be a pain to get out if you don't line your pan. Use foil or parchment paper - foil is easier to get into the pan, but makes it much harder to get the bars out of it, because the gooey batter grabs onto the foil crinkles and bakes them in so that you spend 20 minutes using the tip of your good paring knife digging silver bits out of your snack instead of 20 minutes eating your snack. Just sayin'.
Enough jabber - go bake!
CHEWY GRANOLA BARS
Makes about 16
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT instant or quick cooking)
1/2 cup wheat bran or wheat germ
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
Pinch of salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper or foil. Spray lining with nonstick spray.
Add dry ingredients to medium sized bowl. Stir to mix. Add wet ingredients. Stir to blend well.
Pour into prepared pan. Push the sticky mess into all the corners with a spatula and smooth it down so it's evenly distributed.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown.
Set on baking rack to cool completely. Slice into 1-inch wide bars. Store in an airtight container until you eat them all.