OK, school begins next week and my son wants to make granola bars for Kindergarten snack time. Any good suggestions and tips?? I found an AB recipe on the Food Network site that I'm thinking of using as a jumping off point. He's begins by toasting the rolled oats, seeds and nuts, then heating brown sugar and butter with honey, mixing the toasty and melty with some dried fruits and then baking. There's a note about not cutting them until they are cool. It seems to me that they would crumble if you did that. But then again, I wouldn't expect AB to post a sloppy recipe.
If you've tried this or have another method I'd love some advice!
Another suggestion is Matisse & Jack's homemade energy bars. I coach a kids' soccer team and all the kids really like these a lot more than the bars we used to dole out... easy to bake and really fresh tasting. Work out to be much cheaper too. Good kid fuel. :)
Thank you all for your help. We wound up using the AB recipe and your tips were very helpful. I actually did measure most of the ingredients because my son was reading the recipe and he is a stickler for order - unlike Mom!! However I added the nuts and dried fruits by feel and also added some dried unsweetened coconut that we toasted with the nuts and rolled oats. The recipe expanded such that it fit in a brownie pan and the bars came out very thick. That was fine, but I was surprised since I didn't think I added much more than the recipe required and the recipe specified a 9 x 9" pan!!
It was very helpful to press the bars when they came out of the oven. I used a duplicate brownie pan and weighted it with canned goods. The cutting went just as you'd all explained!
Next time I want to add pistachios or salted peanuts as suggested and I would also like to try different fruits for variety.
The only disappointment is my own. My husband loved the bars and feels virtuous bringing one to the office as a snack and my son was delighted with the process and the result. However I'd forgotten that the recipe calls for honey. I hate honey. Many people tell me they can barely distinguish between honey and other sweeteners but I think the taste is incredibly distinctive and I just can't stand it. I honestly suspect that it has something to do with childhood tea and toast during illness. That is the only time I was ever served honey as a child and I may be making an unfortunate association.
But I'll make them again and it's nice to have a treat in the house that is not the least bit tempting!
I make the Alton Brown recipe quite often - just last night, in fact - and it is a great jumping off point.
I'd suggest adding something to lighten the oatmeal - some puffed rice cereal or cheerios will do. A little millet adds a nice crunch. I also add 2 oz peanut butter and cut back the honey by that much. For fruit, I use raisins & craisins since the more exotic dried fruits would be wasted on my kids. And salted peanuts are quite delicious in it.
About the cutting, there is a magical moment to do it. When it comes out of the oven, I press it down more. When somewhat cool, I score it, cutting about halfway through. Then you can fully cut when it's cooled.
Thank you all so much! Our nursery school embraced the nut prohibition, but our Kindergarten seems not to be taking that route. Then again, while they enjoy a fabulous reputation, they are remarkably disorganizes so I wouldn't be surprised to learn about a prohibition after violating it!
We'll be trying the recipes this afternoon (probably just one of them to start) and I'll check back with my results! Oddly, Whole Foods didn't have a large selection of dried fruits so I had to settle for cranberries and apples. I'd hope to get some cherries and pears, maybe next time!
I have made Alton Brown's Granola Bar recipe three times and it's excellent. Best tasting 'energy' bars I have ever had -- and at a whole lot less than a dollar a bar!!
I have made variations in the last batches. I add more nuts. In the last batch, I added shelled pistachios (yum).
re: There's a note about not cutting them until they are cool. It seems to me that they would crumble if you did that.
The key is that when you put them in the pan, press them down quite firmly. (I used a silicone spatula.) You want them pretty well compressed. The main binder is honey and when it cools, it gets firmer.
Also -- I warp some in foil and freeze them. Good for months (or so I suspect - they usually don't last that long).
Many schools these days don't allow nuts- I'd check with your son's school before you make them.
Here's something absolutely delicious that comes out like a granola bar:
Whole Oat Flapjacks
And here's one I got from krissywats- I think it's a soft bar:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole milk (Kristin used fat free evaporated milk
Kristin also added about two Tablespoons of molasses
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 2-quart souffle (or other baking dish) with a non-stick coating.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Mix in the oil and sugar; combine well. Stir in the oats, baking powder, salt, and milk; mix until combined well.
Pour mixture into prepared dish and bake for 40-55 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. Serve warm with the cream and fruit.