During my junior year of college, I studied abroad in France for a semester. While I was in my culinary heaven, I noshed on some pretty amazing food, but there was one American snack that I really missed. ‘Nola.
Not that they didn’t have granola. You could certainly buy 6-packs of little granola bars, and my host-mom even had a stash of bars in her pantry. I ate plenty of them; I think I lived off of mostly granola bars and clementines towards the end of the semester (I was, after all, on a college kid budget). Yet, my granola fix was just not satiated by the French version. French granola bars just appeared less granola-y to me: they were less dense, lacked the chunks of nut, and quite simply were not as good (in my opinion). I could not find a single bar that packed the flavor and crunch of American granola.
Now that I’m back in the states, I’ve become an even bigger granola snob, believe it or not, and prefer to make my own. Store-bought granola bars are just fine, but I like to know what’s in my bar. Making my own allows me to control how healthy they are, and while I usually wind up adding chocolate drizzled on top, my granola is still better-for-me ‘nola. 🙂
To make this chewy snack, you’ll need a few things: an 8 x 12 baking dish, a baking sheet, a good knife to chop through the almonds, a large mixing bowl, a heat-proof spatula, and a bain or small heat-proof bowl.
You’ll start by toasting old-fashioned oatmeal and chopped almonds on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 12 minutes, and be sure to stir once or twice to get an even toast. You’ll want the oat mixture to be lightly browned, so adjust the time as necessary, depending on how your oven cooks. After the oat mixture has cooled slightly, combine with wheat germ, flax seed and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl (make sure it is heat-proof if your oats are still hot!).
Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Heat the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan on medium. Once this gooey mixture starts to boil, stir for about one minute and then take it off the burner. Pour your melted butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir well.
Once your oats are well coated in the melted butter mixture, pour into your prepared baking dish, and gently push down into the dish. Bake for about 20-25 minutes (again, adjust for your oven), until the top is light golden brown. Let the granola cool for 2+ hours before you crumble or cut the granola into bars.
Now for my favorite part: while the granola is cooling, melt your chocolate chips using a bain, or you can create a make-shift bain, using a small saucepan with water and a heat proof bowl. Boil water in the small pot, and then place the heat proof bowl in the boiling water (use mitts!!) to melt the chocolate. Once the chocolate is well melted (this will only take a few minutes), use a mitt and a heat-proof spatula to spoon the melted chocolate into a pastry bag, or if you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a plastic bag and cut a tip off one of the corners. I would recommend having a sous-chef at this point, to hold the bag while you spoon in the melted chocolate. 🙂
Drizzle the chocolate over the granola while squeezing the bag. Once the baking dish has fully cooled, you can put it in the fridge to let the chocolate set.
Et voilà! ‘Nola.
(Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Homemade Granola Bars)
Makes enough for 12+ bars.
- 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed (or more if you want extra Omega3’s!)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed lightly)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I like to mix up what dried fruit I use, but usually do 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup dried blueberries, and 1/2 cup dried cherries. If you come up with a better combination, though, I’m all ears! :))
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or more if you want to make this granola more of a dessert!)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray an 8 x 12 baking dish with cooking spray. Bake oatmeal and almonds on a baking sheet for 12 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let mixture cool, then combine with wheat germ and flax seed in a large mixing bowl. Add dried fruit as well.
Reduce oven temperature to 300F. Heat butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan on medium. When mixture comes to a boil, stir for about one minute. Pour over oat mixture and stir well.
Pour into your prepared baking dish and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Let granola cool for 2+ hours before cutting into bars. While granola is cooling, melt chocolate chips using a bain, Spoon the melted chocolate into a pastry bag, and drizzle chocolate over the granola.
Tools you’ll need: an 8 x 12 baking dish, a baking sheet, a good knife to chop through the almonds, a large mixing bowl, a heat-proof spatula, and a bain or small heat-proof bowl.