Lately, I’ve been obsessing over making the perfect granola bar for my just turned 20 month-old son to snack on in the afternoon.
I am no stranger to the art of homemade granola bars. I used to make them once a week for my four year old daughter when she was his age but as with a lot of other foods that she initially found pleasing, she subsequently changed her mind about them. I quickly went on a granola bar hiatus, but now I’m back and ready to subject my son to an onslaught of granola bars. Look out, Russell.
For my first granola bar outing, I tried the recipe on Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette. I picked it because I liked the ingredients it called for, with moderate amounts of butter and sugar and a healthy dose of peanut butter. I also liked that this granola bar is baked, which I know will make for a cookie-like bar that will not leave a big sticky mess on my son. He is known to be a very messy eater, keeping all baby wipes manufacturers in business.
Molly’s instructions were clear and reassuring enough for me to confidently modify her version into one that is more suitable for my son. My add-ins were largely motivated by what I had in my pantry – hazelnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pepitas, shredded coconut and dried cranberries. I pulsed all the dry ingredients in a food processor until they were chopped up into small bits before folding them, together with the rest of the ingredients, into the butter, honey (I used manuka) and peanut butter glue. This turned the granola bars into a baby friendly version that is less taxing on their newly formed baby teeth and their immature digestive system.
The granola bars made my kitchen smell amazing while they baked in the oven. The baked bars were dense and hearty with oats, seeds and nuts, with a faint note of manuka honey that I find very pleasing and wholesome. I couldn’t wait hours before cutting into them but my bars held their shape well, considering that the nuts and seeds were pulsed into rubble-like bits. When I bit into a square, it was like biting into a crumbly cookie, not a bad thing, just not a chewy granola bar as promised. I certainly did not over bake them; I suppose that is because the finely chopped add-ins resulted in a dryer mixture.
What did my son think of them? He LOVED it! Score!
And to act as double duty, I served these granola bars for breakfast as well, crumbled into a bowl and topped with greek yogurt. Delicious and nutritious, just the perfect start to our day.