Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Copy-cat granola

There's a cart in the College of Architecture that serves coffee to black-clad instructors and bleary-eyed students whose fingers are too paralyzed by Sobo glue to operate a French press. The coffee cart is run by a ridiculously successful cafe and bakery in Atlanta, so the baristas also dispense really good cookies and sandwiches.

I snuck out of an interminable review one day to rustle up a compact, calorie-rich snack. On the coffee guy's recommendation, I picked up a "nutrition bar," a weird granola-Power Bar hybrid. It was so good, I spent the next few days (post-review, I had time on my hands) trying to replicate it.

The recipe I've come up with is not an exact match for the bakery's - I got pretty close, and then made a few tweaks, which I think improved it. These keep really well, and besides eating them as a grab-and-go snack, Allen and I packaged the bars and gave them in Christmas gift baskets this year.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Crispies
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325°. With your hands, mix all ingredients very well in a large bowl. With clean hands (so mixture won't stick), press very firmly into a greased 9"x13" pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool completely before cutting. Cut into 24 bars (six long rows and four width-wise rows). Store up to a week or two, covered and at room temperature, or give to friends - three or four bars in a pint container.


  1. YES! I have been meaning to ask you for this recipe for a while.

    I made my own peanut butter yesterday... so I will have to add it to these granola bars are next.


  2. You made your own peanut butter? Of course you did. I want to try it!
    I'm actually not sure whether homemade peanut butter will work or not. The kind at the farmer's market is grainier and less cohesive than, say, Jif - the granola might need the sticky smoothness of conventional peanut butter. Try it and see! I'd like a sample, please.

  3. You were right on the peanut butter. They ended up being pretty crumbly, but still very tasty.

    I worry that I made the bars too thin, but I think the peanut butter was at the root of the problem.

    The peanut butter is easy:

    2 cups roasted peanuts
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 tsp salt + more to taste
    Peanut Oil

    Process the peanuts, honey, and salt until the peanuts are mostly broken down. Then drizzle in peanut oil until it starts to smooth out.

    If you grab some peanuts at the farmers market you can end up with some nice natural peanut butter for a pretty decent price. The Jif ingredients list is a little iffy.

  4. these look amazing! and all with no butter...i love it! i will have to try these soon!

  5. I can't wait to try these. I've been looking for a good granola bar recipe that will stick. So you think all natural peanut butter might not work as well?

  6. I do think that, if it's important to you that they really hold together, commercial peanut butter (or a half-and-half mixture) would work best. But I bet the flavor would be amazing! It also really depends on what all-natural peanut butter you get - some are actually very creamy. Let me know if you try it!

  7. I tried these and used agave nectar instead of honey. they were very crumbly, do you think the honey makes it that much more cohesive? They were extremely tasty and my 2 yr old loves it, so thanks for the recipe.

  8. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe.
    The agave nectar may have something to do with the consistency; I haven't tried it using agave nectar.
    The three biggest determinants in the bars holding together, as I've found, are:
    1. Mix the ingredients very well (the more the peanut butter coats every little thing, the better)
    2. Pack the mixture down very firmly in the pan before baking, and
    3. Let it cool completely before cutting into bars.

    The bars will still be crumbly, but should hold together well enough to get it onto a plate / into your mouth without breaking apart. I even put them in Ziploc bags and take them to class, although they're sure to be a little broken by time I get there.