making granola bars-lots of questions

Hello, I’m new and have some burning questions about granola bars. TIA for helping!

I want to give homemade granola bars to my sisters for Christmas, so I experimented tonight with a recipe, seeing as how I’d never made them before. Here’s the recipe I used:

4 c oatmeal, not instant
1 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 c chopped nuts (I used salted sunflower seeds because of allergies)
1/2 c melted butter
1/2 c honey
6 oz (half a bag) chocolate chips

I greased a large mixing bowl, combined all ingredients except choc chips and mixed well. Then I pressed into a greased 10 x 15 jelly roll pan, sprinkled the choc chips on the top and pressed them into the granola. I used a piece of wax paper and pressed the mixture down as much as I could. Then I baked at 450 for 10 min, let cool and cut up.

They’re good (ds loves them!) but I’ve had better. Here are my questions:

  1. There are a lot of good tasting ingredients but they mainly tasted like oats and the others didn’t really come through. Any suggestions?
    1a) If I increase the raisins (or coconut or honey) will there be problems with the bars holding together
  2. They didn’t hold together as well as I thought they would. I greased the mixing bowl so the honey wouldn’t stick, was that a bad idea?
  3. They are crunchier than I thought they’d be and I’d really like them to be chewier. Is that a result of cooking time and should I back it off?
  4. The chocolate chips didn’t really melt very well and I figure it’s because the baking time was shorter than they needed to melt, but if I’d baked them any longer, the edges would have burned. I was thinking of using the mini chips next time or melting chocolate and drizzling it on the top. Which would

Granola and granola bars are all a matter of preference!

You say they were crunchier than you thought they’d be -

Chewy Granola Bars

1 teaspoon margarine or butter
1 10-ounce package large marshmallows
1/4 cup margarine or butter
4 cups granola with raisins
1 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds or chopped peanuts

Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with the 1 teaspoon margarine or butter. Save until Step 4.

Put marshmallows and the 1/4 cup margarine or butter in a large saucepan. Put saucepan on a burner. Turn burner to medium-low heat. Cook until marshmallows are melted, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Turn off burner. Remove saucepan
from burner.

Stir in granola with raisins, crisp rice cereal, and sunflower seeds or peanuts.

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking pan. Press with buttered hands to make it even. Let mixture cool. Cut into bars with the knife. Makes 24 bars.

Make ahead tip: Prepare bars; store in tightly container up to 2 days.

OR

3 cups oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup coconut
½ cup All-bran cereal
¼ cup melted butter or margarine
2/3 cups light brown sugar
2/3 cups pure Vermont Maple syrup
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, mix oats, wheat germ, coconut, cereal and raisins.

In another bowl (microwave proof), melt the butter. Add in the brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla.

Combine the two mixtures, and mix well.

Press into a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool. Cut into squares.

Cocoa Granola Bars

1 cup oats (uncooked)
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup Post 100% Bran Cereal
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried fruit (aprictos, apples, dates)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tbsp liquid honey
2 tsp vanilla

Combine first 6 ingredients in large bowl.

Melt butter with brown sugar in small saucepan. Add cocoa, honey and vanilla, stirring until smoothly blended. Pour over cereal mixture. Mix well; stirring to coat all dry ingredients with cocoa mixture.

Press firmly in 9-inch square pan, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. Underbake for chewy bars and bake a little longer for crisp ones.

Helpful Hint: Add 3/4 tsp grated orange rind for a new taste sensation.

Granola Bars

Cut up snack bars in serving size so they fit right in the snack size zip lock bags, then put them into a master large size freezer zip lock bags. Take out just what you need. Pack them in a lunch right from the freezer, and will be thawed and ready at lunch.

1 cup honey
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 2/3 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup wheat germ
2 cups of mix-ins in any combination of the following: coconut,
raisins, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips,
unsalted peanuts, miniature M&;M’s, any finely chopped dried
fruit such as dates, apricots, apples, etc.

Mix honey and peanut butter until well blended. It might help to warm the honey in the microwave about 20 seconds so that it is not so stiff. Stir in oats, flour, wheat germ and mix-ins. If mixture seems too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too sticky, add oats 1 tablespoon at a time. Mixture should be slightly sticky, but still easily spread in a pan with greased fingers. Press into a 9 x 13-inch pan lightly greased. Bake at 350 degrees F until barely browned. DO NOT OVER BAKE!

Cut while warm into desired sized bars. When completely cool, remove from pan with a greased spatula. Wrap each bar separately in plastic wrap and then store in a zip bag or air-tight container. These freeze extremely well. Save the crumbs for ice cream topping.

Makes about 2 dozen bars.

OR

3 c. granola
1/2 c. raisins
1/3 c. wheat germ
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter or margarine
3 T. honey

Combine cereal, raisins and wheat germ. Put brown sugar, butter and honey
in small pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
Cool slightly and pour over cereal mixture, mixing well. Firmly press into
foil-lined 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 for 12 min. Remove from pan and foil.
Cut into 1x3" bars. Makes 27 bars.

Honey Trail Mix Bars

4 1/2 cups rolled oats or quick oats
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
Lightly grease a 9 x 15" pan.
Combine the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla, honey, and brown sugar. Beat with an electric mixer. Batter will be very heavy.
Using a strong spoon, stir in remaining ingredients until well combined.
press dough into prepared pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Cut into bars and cool completely before removing from pan.

Can you answer the questions for me? I’m still trying to understand how these bars stick together.

honey and butter are usually the binders - sometimes there is just too much of an ingredient to keep the bars together - you can try to cut back a bit on the coconut or the oats (for instance)

with 4 cups oats - it will have an oat taste - oats and fruits

increasing coconut will most likely cause a problem with them holding together - a bit more honey may help

drizzling chocolate over the top would be nice

try baking at a lower temperature to prevent over browning or drying out - a good oven thermometer will help - ovens need to be calibrated from time to time - it happens

one note - not all recipes are good recipes - sometimes you need to trade one in for another - it happens -

I didn’t want to switch recipes completely because I need to make these soon and I’ll get too fat if I keep on making (and eating) granola bars. I didn’t increase the coconut like you said, but I changed the recipe somewhat to this:

4 c oatmeal, not instant
1 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup craisins
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 c chopped nuts (I used salted sunflower seeds because of allergies)
3/4 c melted butter
1/2 c honey
6 oz (half a bag) chocolate chips

This combination came about by identifying what I (and my family) thought were missing and looking at other recipes. The taste is wonderful but the tend to fall apart. I upped the butter, so I’m thinking that I would scale it back to a half cup and possibly add more honey. Because I added an extra half cup of craisins, I’m wondering if I should have cut the amount of oats to 3 1/2 cups. When I combined the ingredients the oats didn’t seem to get fully mixed in, like there wasn’t enough binder to go around. Any thoughts?

TIA,

Susie

scale back on your oatmeal - try 3 cups and see how the dough feels and looks - if too liquidy - add 1/4 cup more - until you get your desired results and take your butter down to 1/2 cup and see how it feels and looks - it is much easier to add more of an ingredient than it is to remove one