I love baseball, but the food at ballparks not so much. French fries and an occasional hot dog or burger are fine, but when it comes to desserts, if you don’t like Dippin’ Dots, the pickings are pretty slim, at least at our local stadium.
The good news is that they let you bring in food. When we went to a Nats game on my husband’s birthday, I brought chocolate mega-muffins and had no trouble finding takers when I offered them to our companions. During Passover a few weeks ago, I brought fruit, baked vegetable chips, and chocolate, which complemented the sweet potato fries from one of the stands, just fine. As always, I offered goodies to my friends; they eagerly took the chips and candy, politely declining the grapes.
Today, I’m off to the ballpark with another homemade treat – grown-up granola bars. This time, I’ve mixed the fruit and chocolate, and I’m betting these will be snapped up. They are chock full of good stuff – chocolate, nuts, coconut and dried fruit, but not overly sweet – perfect whether you’re going to a ball game, watching a movie, or packing a snack for a break at work.
Although I have a wonderful granola recipe that I could have adapted, instead I went with a homemade bar recipe from Cooking with Erin. She (Erin) has school-aged 5 kids, so I felt confident that she knows how to make great snacks. Plus, she has a great sense of humor, so I was smiling all the way through the post. I don’t have to worry about making mine kid friendly, so I named them Grown-Up Granola Bars.
Here’s Erin’s version. And here’s mine:
Grown-Up Granola Bars
Servings – 24 (2 inches x 4 inches) Cost – $6-7
- 4 cups old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- ½ cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, as Erin did)
- 1 cup semi-sweet and/or bittersweet or darker chocolate chips or chunks
- 1 cup dried raisins and/or cranberries
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (5 tablespoons total) coconut oil
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Large bowl
- Large fork or silicone spatula
- Metal spatula or pancake turner
- Rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and oiled
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Small saucepan or microwaveable bowl
- Large cutting board (as large as the baking sheet) or waxed paper
- Wire rack
- Large knife or cleaver
- Ruler and toothpicks (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line the baking sheet and either spray the parchment or spread about a teaspoon of canola or similar oil on the parchment with a paper towel.
- Mix the oats, flour, coconut, chopped nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit in the large bowl.
- Melt the coconut oil (which is solid, not liquid as you might think from its name) and brown sugar in the saucepan or microwavable bowl on a moderately low heat/setting, together with the honey and salt. Add the cinnamon and the vanilla, mix them into the liquid and cool it to room temperature so the chocolate won’t disintegrate when you mix everything together.
- Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Spread the mixture evenly on the oiled parchment-lined baking sheet and press it down with the backside of the metal spatula/pancake turner.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Then flip the pan onto the cutting board or waxed paper and cut the baked bars. I find it easiest to use toothpicks and a ruler to guide me, but if you have a good eye for cutting a long, straight line, be my guest. For 24 bars, cut 4 long rows and 6 short ones. Some will crumble a bit on their edges. No problem – save those granola chunks for yogurt or ice cream. Besides, life sometimes has ragged edges, so why not granola bars?
- Store in an airtight container.
By the way, if you need any more convincing about why your granola bars should be homemade, check out the labels on the ones you find near the cereal aisle of your grocery store. I’ll bet most of them contain artificial flavoring, corn syrup, and maybe preservatives. Compare those ingredients to the ones in this recipe. Then go price the “natural, organic” granola bars in the store. You can make a boatload of these for a fraction of the cost of the store-bought type. And the taste comparison? Well, just munch on one of these and let me know what you think.