A while back, we bought some granola bars to help tide us over for the long car ride home from wherever we were. Jonathan LOVED them. A bit later, we bought some CLIF bars to have on hand in case of 'emergency' (needing to leave right away and realizing we'd forgotten breakfast, or to help tide through an extra long meeting, etc.). Again, the one bar Jonathan had, he loved. And obsessed over. Nearly daily, he begged that his snack/breakfast/lunch/dinner/whatever could be a CLIF bar. This was getting out of hand! I decided that if he loved granola bars so much, I'd rather make them and know exactly what was in them.
Then, for my birthday, Jonathan got me a new cookbook, and lo and behold, there was a granola bar recipe in it. It seemed destined to be. :)
Granola Bars, or Loose Granola, from The Supper Club, by Susie Cover
3 1/4 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c. flaxseed (recipe specifies golden, I used the regular that I had on hand.)
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened (I used sweetened, what I had)
1 c. dried cranberries, chopped coarsely (ended up using raisins in second batch, ran out of craisins)
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
3 T. honey
3 T. maple syrup
2 T. canola oil (I used corn oil)
2 T. vanilla extract (yes, Tablespoons, not teaspoons!)
3/4 t. kosher salt
nonstick cooking spray (opt.)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the oats (and flaxseed, though I chose not to put it in at this point,) on the prepared baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, stir together the coconut and cranberries. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the brown sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is a smooth syrup, about 5 minutes. (I frequently walked away, and there were a few granules of brown sugar left in the bottom of my syrup, but they got blended in well in the next step.)
Pour the syrup over the cranberries and coconut, add the toasted oats (and flaxseed!), and stir and toss with a rubber spatula until everything is evenly coated with the syrup and blended well.
To make loose granola, discard the parchment paper and spray your pan with cooking spray. Spread the oats mixture in a single layer on the pan and bake in a 325ºF oven, until golden brown. (Recipe says 30 minutes, but I scorched my first batch black in that time...15-20 should be fine.)
To make granola bars, lightly spray the parchment paper with cooking spray (or not, I forgot to!) and spread the oats mixture evenly across it. Press down until everything is one large, evenly layered rectangle. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes in a 325ºF oven. Let cool till only slightly warm, then cut into bars. Transfer to the refrigerator and let the bars set and cool completely, about 1 hour. Then, using a thin spatula, remove bars from the pan and serve. (I removed the bars from the pan when I cut them, and packed them in a container in the fridge to cool.) Enjoy!