I have long been a fan of homemade granola bars.
I'm not saying I've ever actually made them, I'm just saying I've always really liked the idea of it.
Organic "bars" run a little high with just six to a box and price tags running you around $6. Don't get me started on all the packaging and extra sugar... blah, blah. What's my problem(?)...I need to start making homemade granola bars.
Soooo...last week in the throes of early, onset veganism (no commitments yet), I tried to find a good recipe. Did I want to trust all the vegans online that claimed their recipe was the best? Or did I want to go straight to the queen and see if I couldn't modify her dairy fortified recipe?
Knock, knock - Hey, Ina!
I was super relieved to see that Mrs. Garten's tried and true granola bars only contained 3 T of dairy/butter. An easy fix, no? I wondered if three tablespoons of peanut butter might not be a good swap and so I gave it my best.
Is subbing peanut butter for regular butter a well-documented vegan trick? Because it worked SO well and I want to claim this brilliance as my own!
Once all the moving parts had been toasted, melted and tossed, I found a really strong young man, with super big "muskles" to help me with the heavy pushing part.
Focus on the food, you can't actually eat her.
These were so divine. And the added dark chocolate made them a much healthier dessert-type food than I would normally reach for after dark. Here's how I did it:
Vegan Granola Bars
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
- 1/2 cup chopped unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using vegan butter, grease a 8 x 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ and flax seed.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the peanut butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dried figs, seeds and dark chocolate and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and firmly press mixture down flat and evenly into pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.
** I played around with this recipe some more this week, most recently removing the brown sugar, halfing the honey and adding in two vegan egg substitutes before baking. So far so good! Of course, each revision is less sweet than the batch before it, and maybe a bit more crumbly, but I love that I'm taking down the sugar content for all of us.