Chewy Granola Bars

All sorts of interesting things turned up during a recent freezer excavation, during which my husband and eldest daughter inventoried everything in both of our cooling appliances and afterwards presented me with an itemized spreadsheet, glee evident upon their faces. Who would have thought one could hoard so many different types of sausage? 

One thing that resurfaced from the depths of the deep freezer as a result of their intrepid organization effort was a small box of homemade chewy granola bars. Aghast at the date on the lid I advocated throwing them away, but my husband allowed them to thaw and sampled them. I watched his face nervously. When what came next was "Mmmm" followed by "How did you make these?" followed by "That is one of the best granola bars I've ever eaten," I knew it was time to excavate the ol' blog from deep freeze too. 

Chewy Granola Bars

1 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
2 c. puffed rice cereal
1/2 c. EACH chopped peanuts and cashews
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. flax
1/3 c. chocolate chips

Prepare a 7x11" pan by lining it with parchment and giving it a light mist of non-stick spray.
Pulse half of the oats in a food processor until chopped fine, but not to the point of creating flour. Combine all the oats, rice cereal, peanuts, cashews, cranberries, raisins, and flax in a large bowl, give them a good mix, and set aside. Make the binding syrup by melting the peanut butter and butter, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is smooth. Pour the syrup into the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the granola bar mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly and evenly. Allow to cool and set for 20 minutes at room temperature, then lift out of the pan and cut into bars. If the bars are still too soft and crumbly after 20 minutes or you just want to speed things up, you can also firm them up in the fridge. Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or two, or in the freezer. If you plan to freeze them, most recipes for homemade granola bars suggest consuming them within a few months. Allow to thaw before eating. 


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