In an effort to limit my over-snacking habits during spring break this week, I decided to make something portable and chocolatey to take with me to the library as I memorize European design things from 1800-1930. Sounds fun right? Added bonus: you can eat these pretty discreetly– this is extremely important in an environment with a no food policy in place. The last time I tried to eat in a particular cultural institution’s library, it was a peanutbutter sandwich, and I nearly suffocated myself trying to stuff it down before any of the librarians emerged. Not every library is like this, but the ones I have to frequent these days tend to be stodgy this way (and I suppose for good reason… bugs + rare books, not so hot).
Anyway, I’ve tried making granola bars with just peanutbutter and homemade granola, but they were sort of amorphous and more suited to being eaten out of a bowl (still a great and incredibly filling combination though). Here’s my second try and while they did come out more like bars, these are not for someone looking for a sweet dessert– these guys are heavy, filling, and have a pleasant (if a little bland) nutty-chocolatey flavor. I think I would add a handful of homemade granola as well as some sort of nut to the batter next time to give things more of a flavor and texture. The inspiration for the recipe and the method is found here; I made a few changes according to what I had available and what I like (I don’t actually like walnuts in things that much, need to work on this.)
1 1/2 cups raw oatmeal, ground in a food processor or blender (I used a blender and was surprised at how easy this was.)
1/4 cup coconut flakes
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave)
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup peanutbutter (I had smooth on hand so that’s what I used, but chunky peanutbutter would probably be better.)
1 handful chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Then add the oil, peanutbutter, and honey and mix well. I did this by hand, but it’s kind of sticky so a hand mixer might be the better bet. Stir in the chocolate chips. Lightly spray an 8×8 pan with cooking oil (or in my case 8×12 since that’s the closest we had. I sort of smushed the mixture to one side of the pan to make it a square), and press the mixture into the corners. The more you pack it down, the denser the granola bars will be, so keep that in mind. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove, let cool for 10 minutes, and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cut into either 8 or 10 bars and put the dish back in the oven to cook for another 15 or 20 minutes. Cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Again, these are a little dry, so I’m still working on getting a consistency and flavor that I like. Nevertheless, they’re doing their job as a portable energy booster and as something easy to grab with a banana for a quick and filling breakfast.