I’ve been trying to make a basic oats and honey granola bar for years. It’s been an on again off again experiment that has created pages full of notes. Some versions were too sticky, some too brittle, flax seed made it taste really weird health effects be damned. But my number one struggle with a good granola bar was getting a solid bar that didn’t fuse itself to the pan. There seemed to be a magic moment when they had cooled a little, but not too much, and could be cut and removed from a pan, at which point they usually needed to be remolded into a bar shape. I have seen other people use greased parchment paper to ease this process, but I’m just not a buy-to-dispose-of parchment paper fan. And still, there remained a small, mysterious, window of time in which to cut the bars. After giving up the fight for about a year and a half I tried, in a pinch, making bars in silicone muffin cups. Success. Turns out silicone is the answer. And individually sized silicone is the best answer. So just get over your expectations and embrace the disc shaped granola bar.
Thanks to the silicone, this recipe seems to be quite forgiving. I was just pouring random amounts in the first couple times, and the result was consistently good. My original intention was to make a Nature Valley Oats & Honey Granola Bar rip off. My final result is not quite as dry as theirs. Really it’s more like caramel coated oatmeal. But I want you to understand these are supposed to be old school granola bars, not protein bars. There don’t have dried fruit or nuts in them, just carbs, sweet carbs. That said, a scoop of peanut butter would be a great addition (Nature Valley makes those too don’t they?) and could probably replace some of the oil.
Basic Oat Granola Bars
4 TBS oil
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBS white sugar
2 TBS water
3 TBS honey
Set up a muffin tin with 12 silicone muffin cups.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and the salt and stir really well. Keep stirring often to toast the oats. As soon as the oats start to color remove them from the heat.
In a large saucepan swirl together the white sugar and the water. Heat the saucepan over medium high heat, swirling often. You want to dissolve the sugar before the mixture boils. If it starts to boil and it is not yet dissolved, pull it off the heat and keep swirling. When the mixture is all clear and dissolved, bring it to a boil and cover it for about 2 minutes. After that time, keep boiling it but uncover it. Don’t try to stir it or swirl it while it’s boiling. As soon as the mixture starts to color (it will turn from clear to golden), pull it off the heat. Stir in the honey, and watch out because it will bubble, hiss, and potentially spatter. As soon as the honey is incorporated, stir in the toasted oats.
Scoop the syrup covered oats into the muffin cups. Treat this mess as you would treat hot glue. It is very hot and sticky; if you get it on your skin it is hard to get off and will give you a nasty burn. Once all the oats are in the cups use a spoon or rubber spatula to push the oats down into the cups to form a solid block. Let cool. When cool, they should pop right out of the muffin cups and can be stored together in a container. They keep for at least a week, probably longer, or you can freeze them.