Okay, maybe I do get overly excited about little things but I’ve been working really hard to come up with a great granola bar. I’ve tried all kinds of recipes, adding and subtracting ingredients, trying different techniques, but ending up ruling out one version after another. Some were too soft and chewy, some too hard and crunchy (as in break your tooth crunchy!) Some were too “seedy” and, well I hate to say this, but just too “healthy” tasting (as in blah and similar to a nutty cardboard) but on the other hand, there were those that called for way to much butter or oil, in my mind, defeating the purpose of eating granola bars! One recipe was too sweet and sticky, and on and on it went…………
I was beginning to feel a bit like Prince Charming, you know, trying the glass slipper on all the maidens in the kingdom, 🙂 yet not finding a perfect fit…………… UNTIL I stumbled upon this recipe from Once Upon a Chef. The bars in the pictures looked crispy yet light and Jennifer’s description (she is a real chef, you’ll want to check out her amazing blog!) had me intrigued and so did the crazy ingredient that I hadn’t seen in any other recipe; Rice Krispies! I decided to give this a try……..
After the first batch I knew I was on to something – the crisp rice cereal seems to work a bit of a magic trick, keeping the yummy ingredients from sticking together into a hard mass as they bake. After a few renditions, tweaking the recipe and adding my own touches, I think I’ve come up with, what I think, is the perfect granola bar! They are just as they looked; light, yet extremely crispy and crunchy, sweet, but not too sweet and quite healthy with oats, almonds, flax, sesame seeds and dates without being dry and boring. And you know what? I think that you just might think they’re the “cats meow” too!
P.S. I added pumpkin pie spice to the recipe because I love the fall seasonal flavors, but feel free to add your own favorite spices or just leave them out altogether.
- 1 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup ground flax seeds*
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- ⅔ cup shredded coconut
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped dates
- 1 cup crisp rice cereal
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the oats, flax seed, sesame seeds and almonds on to prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast for 7 minutes. Add coconut and toss well, then place back in the oven to cook about 6-8 minutes more. Keep an eye on it towards the end; the coconut can burn quite easily, you want it golden, not burned.
While oat mixture is toasting, combine the honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and repeat this process for a total of 3 minutes. Stir with a whisk to make sure the brown sugar is completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is finished baking, remove it from the oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Combine the the oat mixture, honey-maple syrup mixture, dates and rice cereal in a large bowl and mix until dry ingredients are coated with the syrup mixture. Set aside the parchment lined sheet pan.
Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray parchment paper generously with cooking spray. Turn granola bar mixture out into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly with the back of a flat metal spatula, being careful not to press down too hard. Bake for 20 minutes (be sure heat is reduced to 300 degrees).
Remove from the oven and cool or 10 minutes. Invert the entire pan onto a cutting board and usig a large sharp knife cut the bars into rectangles. I cut the bars in half lengthwise and then into rectangles approximately 1 1/2 inches wide.
Place the bars onto the parchment lined sheet pan and return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely and store in an airtight container.
*Use ground flax seeds rather than whole because the whole seeds are not digested.