So… school. Starts soon, right? I have finally begun thinking about the various and sundry aspects of the impending school year. School clothes, pencil box supplies, lunches, snacks, and backpacks. My biggest concern with this transition is having food ready for the kids so that packing lunches and school snacks and after-school snacks isn’t a disaster. I’m corralling some recipes for easy, portable food and trying to tweak them to our particular culinary preferences. One thing you should know about us is that we all love chocolate chip granola bars. The kind that come in the wrapper. But I’m cracking down hard on the food budget and it was time to perfect an intriguing recipe I had happened upon on Allrecipes. These are not too heavy, thanks to the rice cereal, and not too crunchy, thanks to the caramel that holds them together. And they are really, really tasty. I tend to double this recipe and store half in the fridge until we need them. I imagine they might freeze well too, but I haven’t tried.
Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups quick-cooking oats (or old fashioned)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl, stir together the rice cereal, and oats. Set aside. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray (if you double the recipe you can use a half-size sheet pan with a 1” rim).
2. Combine the brown sugar, honey, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until boiling, stirring continuously for 2 minutes (make sure all the sugar has melted), then remove from heat and stir in vanilla until smooth. Pour over the cereal and oat mixture, and mix well. Work quickly.
3. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and press down, compacting it with hands over a piece of waxed paper. Allow to cool thoroughly, then cut into bars (I usually shoot for about 16-18 bars).
I have made these bars about 10 times in the past few months, varying the amounts of sugar, corn syrup, butter and honey to get a shelf-stable bar that wouldn’t fall apart even in an 80 degree house. I imagine this will be less of an issue in the Fall, when temperatures will be cooler. But if you make a batch and find they are too sticky or too crunchy, don’t give up… just try again!