I have been on the pursuit of a really yummy homemade granola bar. I make granola regularly and keep in a jar with a clamp lid on my counter most all of the time, to have with yogurt and fruit. It's a staple in our home and a treat I enjoy sharing with others. However, I've been wanting to find a bar that could become a staple in our home because they are so easy to pick up and take with you (for breakfast, or lunch, or a snack)!
I have made 4 different recipes over the past several months and have found my favorite! It is Joy the Baker’s from her brand new, beautiful cookbook! (I raved about her HERE. If you haven't read her blog, you should, and get her cookbook too!) I am so excited to have the cookbook and was looking through it, marking pages with Lainey of all the recipes that we want to make. (Thank you, Joy, for having a photograph of EVERY recipe!! If I ever get to publish a cookbook in my life, I would like to do that too!) I saw a granola bar recipe and was so excited because it looked like my kind of bar: chewy, fruity, nutty, and simple. I made them and they are super-delicious.
|a taste taste from Nashville to Vermont.|
They made it there safely. She and I were able to discuss the pros and cons of both types of bars. (I miss cooking and creating with Karin, so this was the next best thing.) One was a recipe that was more bar cookie-like, with peanut butter and whole wheat flour. It was a winner. And the other was the Barefoot Contessa Recipe, which is totally different but equally delicious. It is a honey-dominant, sticky, chewy bar with great flavor but felt more like candy to me. (I also tried a very labor intensive fruit and nut bar…like a Larabar from a Real Simple recipe I clipped a while back, which was my least favorite, and the most work, so I quickly marked it off of the list).
|Bar #1 - Peanut Butter Granola Bars|
This Joy the Baker Bar is my favorite. It has golden raisins and coconut, which I love, but my husband doesn’t necessarily. However, when baked with almonds, oats, brown sugar and other yummy ingredients, they provide the sweet and chewy elements to the bar and you don’t notice them in particular (Dave was able to really enjoy the bars in spite of those ingredients). The only trouble I encountered when I made them for the first time, was that they fell apart when I sliced them and then they fell apart when I ate them. So, I learned from this and did a couple of things differently the second batch, so as to make them more cohesive. I baked them in a little bit larger pan so that they were thinner and then pressed them down really firmly all over before baking. (Which Joy actually instructs to do in her recipe, but I didn't take her literally enough). I also cooked them until they were a tad more brown the second go-around. It worked. They are so tasty.
|Portland... I think you're great!|
Speaking of Joy the Baker and her new cookbook, I have to tell you about my encounter with her. I had noticed on her blog that she was traveling around, hosting book signings in various cities. I was excited for her and thought, "if only she would come to Nashville!" Then, in the airport a couple of weeks ago, when I was going on a trip to Portland, OR with my social work students and colleagues, my student, Becca, told me that Joy was going to be in Portland doing a book signing that night! I was so excited, as were a few of our students. We decided it was destiny! We had to go! After reading further, Becca realized that the bookstore where Joy would be was not within walking or subway riding distance to our downtown hotel. We would have to take a cab. Being cheap, like I am, I figured that wasn’t in the cards for us. But the adventurous students were persistent and decided to go for it. I was in! So we piled into a cab, paid the pricy fare and traveled in the dark, rainy night to Powell Books, in the suburbs, to see Joy the Baker.
|Q & A with Joy the Baker at Powell Books|
in Portland, OR : Our view of her
And there she was. Adorable, funny, down to earth, endearing. There were more than 100 other adoring fans there as well. We realized pretty quickly that we were not going to be able to stand in that long line to meet her. In addition, there was no book to have her sign, as mine was sitting in my kitchen in Nashville and the bookstore sold out before the signing began. So, we took a couple of photos, and just admired her from afar!
It was crazy. People were bringing her gifts and baked goods, whole cakes, cards, who knows what else.
She posted this photo on her blog that she took of us (the crowd at the signing), from her vantage point, and there I was/am, along with 4 of my students.
It was a moment to remember.
|Her view of us!|
It was a moment to remember.
|The closest we could get to her without standing|
in the 100 + person line. (Check out
the freaky book in the foreground!)
So, I kinda met Joy the Baker. Not really. I had questions ready to ask her, and accolades to share with her, but alas, I didn't get the chance. So, more accurately, I saw Joy the Baker.
Chewy Coconut Almond Raisin Granola Bars (from Joy the Baker)
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat flour (made by putting oats in a food processor or blender until powdered)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 Tbsp. orange juice
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square (or I used a 9 X11 jelly roll pan) with foil so that foil hangs over the edges of the pan. Butter the foil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, oat flour, sugar, flaxseed meal, salt, cinnamon, ginger, coconut, raisins, and almonds.
In a small bowl, whisk together honey, melted butter, and orange juice. Pour over the flour mixture and toss together with a fork. The mixture will be dry but still sticky. Blend together until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the honey mixture.
Dump oat mixture into prepared baking dish. With clean, slightly oiled fingers, press the oat mixture into the dish until tight and solid in the pan! (very important)
Bake for 35 minutes, or until browned around the edges. The baked granola will be soft even after it's fully baked, but will harden as it cools.
Remove baked granola from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator for about an hour before slicing. This will help to further cool the bars and keep them from crumbling when sliced. Use the overhanging foil flaps to remove the baked granola. Use a large, sharp knife to cut block into bars. Store in an airtight container.
They will last up to 2 weeks, if well wrapped and at room temperature.
"oat flour" made from powdered oats
liquid into the dry
pressed firmly into a foil-lined pan
baked to golden perfection
I'll just eat those broken pieces