September 7, 2011

Peanut butter granola bars

Today, I'm trying out some peanut butter granola bars.  I think they'd be good as part of our rotation of after school (or after the park or some kind of exercise) snack options for the little one.  In a bind, these make a quick breakfast bar. 
Peanut butter is the predominant flavor of these bars (sorry if you are allergic) but its bulk comes from old-fashioned oats.  There are also a bit of slivered almonds and mini chocolate chips - all flavors I personally enjoy.  I adapted this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, making a couple of changes based on reviewer comments.  I used to wonder who these people are who do reviews and make comments on websites and post up all those youtube videos.  Now I've really come to appreciate and value constructive participation.  You can learn a lot from what others have tried and discovered. 

I think these granola bars were a success in my house.  Bare in mind that my 6-year old son decided somewhere along the way in the last year or so that he doesn't like nuts.  I think he just wants to dislike things that I tell him are good for him and I know he doesn't really dislike nuts as much as he claims.  He eats peanut butter and used to love walnuts, and I know he's ok with almonds.  He also won't eat oatmeal on its own (he doesn't like anything hot) though he's down with an oatmeal crisp or oatmeal cookies.  So I'm happy to report that he does like (I didn't say love) these granola bars and I don't think he'd mind seeing them as part of his snack rotation.  Personally, I think the bars are quite tasty, with a nice chewy texture.  The toasted almonds go well with the peanut butter also.  These are quite filling so a small piece goes a long way.

I made these peanut butter granola bars in a 9-inch square baking pan.  Start by spraying the pan with cooking spray and placing a piece of parchment paper across, leaving about a 3-inch overhang on either side.   Spray the parchment paper lightly.  The bars can be lifted right out of the pan after cooling. 

The general complaint in the reviews for this recipe was that the bars were too crumbly and too greasy, though everyone seemed to agree that the flavor was good.  I've taken the general advice to decrease the amount of fat in the bars and I'm using an extra egg white to try and get the bars to bind better.  I found that refrigerating the bars after baking and cooling does help a lot when cutting them. 

Start by whisking together 2 egg whites in a medium size bowl until they begin to froth.  Stir in 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of honey.
I used 1/4 cup of canola oil and added this into the bowl together with 2 cups of old-fashioned oats and 1/4 cup of toasted silvered almonds.  (The almonds can be toasted in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or over a dry pan on the stove top).
Finally, 1/3 cup of miniature chocolate chips go in.  Mix together and pour this into the prepared pan. 
Spread the mixture evenly into the pan and pat it down tightly with a rubber spatula.
Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the sides begin to turn brown.  It's important to let it cool thoroughly before cutting (so they'll cut more easily and hold together), about 2 hours.  I started to cut the granola bars after a couple of hours but found that it was still a bit crumbly around the inner edges.  I popped it into the refrigerator for about an hour and this made the job of cutting easier so I recommend doing that. 
You can slice these into whatever size and shape you prefer.  Store them wrapped in plastic wrap and foil in the refrigerator and take them out to let them come to room temperature before snacking.


Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis 

2 egg whites
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Set oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan by spraying with cooking spray.  Lay a piece of parchment paper across, allowing for about 3 inches of overhang on either side.  Lightly spray the parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until they become frothy.  Stir in the peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey using a rubber spatula.  Add the oil, oats and almonds, stirring to combine.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the mix into the prepared pan.  Use the rubber spatula to spread evenly into the pan and press down tightly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the sides begin to turn brown. 

Let cool for about 1 hour or until completely cooled.  For an easier time cutting the bars, refrigerate for another hour or so after cooling.  Slice into any size bars you prefer.  I recommend storing these in the refrigerator.  Let them sit out and come to room temperature before eating.

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