My husband, D., is a huge fan of Alton Brown’s show, Good Eats. In addition to learning about the chemistry and history of food, he likes finding new recipes for me to try. I’ve made a few of Brown’s recipes in the past, most notably his Shoo Fly Pie. I can’t stand molasses, so I never eat it, but everyone else I’ve made it for loved it!
When our grocery store discontinued D.’s favorite protein bars, he asked me to make these as a work snack. He saw the recipe on the show, and said it looked healthier and probably cheaper than buying granola bars at the store.
It took me a few batches to get the hang of them, and I’ve adapted things as I go, so I added notes below to help. While I don’t eat them (I’m not a huge peanut fan), I’m sure I could add some things to this basic recipe that I would enjoy, like shredded coconut, white chocolate, and apricots. In fact, I might try that next weekend!
If you want the original recipe, you can find it here on the Food Network website. Enjoy!
Homemade Granola Bars
(adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe)
To begin, I gathered up the dry ingredients:
8 ounces old fashioned rolled oats (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 ounces raw, shelled sunflower seeds (about 1/2 cup)
3 ounces sliced almonds (I subbed in peanuts – about 1 cup)
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ (about 1/2 cup)
I highly recommend doing this by weight, rather than volume. The bars turn out more consistent this way. You can get pretty decent kitchen scales like this one from Amazon, many of which are under $20!
Once you get your dry ingredients measured, place them on a dry baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. About half way through, give it a stir to make sure everything browns evenly. The wheat germ is prone to burning, so keep an eye on it for the last 5 minutes or so. My oven isn’t consistent, so sometimes I have to take it out a couple minutes early.
While the dry ingredients are baking, gather up your wet ingredients:
6 ounces honey (about 1/2 cup)
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar (about 1/4 cup packed)
1 ounce unsalted butter, plus more to grease pan (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Throw all of the wet ingredients in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the brown sugar is dissolved. I usually start this when the dry ingredients have about 5 minutes left, and they’re both done at the same time. You want this mixture nice and hot when you add it to the rest of the granola so it coats evenly.
Also, while you’re waiting, get your dried fruit together. You’ll need 6 1/2 ounces of whatever fruit you want – apricots, raisins, cranberries, prunes, cherries, blueberries, etc. Today I’m using cranberries because they were cheap and easy to find.
Take your dry mix out of the oven, and put it in a large bowl. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Add in the wet ingredients and toss to coat, then fold in the dried fruit. It’s really hot at this point, so be careful handling it (and don’t try to eat it straight out of the bowl, unless you like a burnt tongue!).
The Alton Brown recipe says to butter a 9×9 inch glass baking dish. I tried that once, and it didn’t work at all – it took forever to get it out, and I was left with a few bars and the rest in crumbles. I suggest either heavily coating it with cooking spray, or even better, line the pan with parchment paper that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Less cleanup later, and less frustration! Press the granola into the pan really well to ensure even bars.
Bake the granola at 300 degrees for 25 minutes, then leave on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, you can easily slice them into 16 bars, and store in an airtight container for a week (ours easily survive 2 weeks just fine).
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to grocery store granola bars, or just want to try out something fun, I highly recommend using this recipe. It’s a great base for adding whatever you want for flavor, and once you get the hang of making them, you can easily knock out a recipe while watching your favorite Food Network shows!