I was just about to give up on homemade granola bars after three promising recipes resulted in dry, crumbly bars. Even Alton Brown failed me and I do love his granola recipe, but his granola bars were just so so. There were a few recipes that called for tons of butter and peanut butter and I knew that would make a moist bar, but it would be more like dessert than a good on-the-go snack. I stayed away from those and was about to give in when I came across a no bake recipe. Finally! It called for prepared granola (in my mind defeating the purpose of homemade bars), so I reworked it.
The recipe is very forgiving so I put several substitutions and options in italics.
Chewy Granola Bars
(makes 16 bars)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey (brown rice syrup or agave)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup flax seed (ground flax seeds works too)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut
1/2 cup golden raisins (dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, or any dried fruit)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds (pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut)
Combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla and butter in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat and simmer just a minute or two for the sugar dissolve. You can let it cool before adding the dry ingredients so the chocolate chips don't melt, but I just dump everything because I'm a tad impatient. Add oats, flax seed, wheat germ, coconut, raisins, chocolate chips and almonds to the melted butter mixture.
Spread in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Use a silicone spatula because it gets sticky. Refrigerate for one hour or until completely cooled. Cut into bars.
Feel free to make a half batch if you don't want to over commit. It fits in an 8 x 8 baking dish.