Coconut Granola Bars

I’ve had this granola bar recipe sitting in my post queue for months now, waiting for me to get it right. Sadly, I’m still waiting. I’ve made it a few times, and tinkered quite a bit: thick bars, thin bars, more sugar, less sugar, different fats, different amounts of fruit & nuts. Don’t get me wrong, these are tasty: a lot less dry and sawdusty than your typical grocery store “health” bar, and a lot less sweet than the candy bars that masquerade as granola bars these days. This batch has a nice coconuty flavor from the coconut oil and dried coconut, are not overly sweet, and are nice and toothsome (there’s that word again) due to the raisins, cranberries and dried blueberries in the mix. They just don’t have that perfect texture I’m searching for: chewy without being sticky, crisp without being crumbly. Granola bar nirvana, in other words.

As I said, I’ve tinkered quite a bit. The problem being that, unless I am actually posting the recipe, my notes tend to be rather haphazard (What does +/- 2 t S mean to you? Yep, not much to me either.). So I’m tossing this one up here in the hopes that you have some secret tricks to share: does the corn syrup really solve all my problems? Am I simply cramming in too much of the good stuff (fruit, nuts, seeds)? Have you achieved Granola Bar Nirvana? Enquiring minds want to know.

Adapted from Thick, Chewy Granola Bars by Deb at Smitten Kitchen via King Arthur Flour (handy weights included)

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Coconut Granola Bars

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 and 2/3 cups oats (original recipe recommends quick rolled oats, which I did not use)
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (1/3 cup oats pulsed in food processor until finely ground)
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp bulghur wheat
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 3 cups (about 15 oz) dried fruit, nuts and seeds*
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (extra virgin)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp water

*I used about 1/2 cup each of almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries & blueberries, and 2 tbsp each of pepitas, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.

METHODS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9″ X 13″ baking pan with one sheet of parchment; spray parchment and sides of pan lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients, including sugar, dried fruit & nuts, and mix well. In a small, heat-safe bowl, melt butter and coconut oil together; add maple syrup, honey and water and mix to combine.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry; mix thoroughly until dry ingredients are evenly wet. Press into parchment-lined pan, using a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap to evenly press into corners.
  4. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until the edges and top are browning and the granola smells very fragrant; the middle will still be quite soft, but will firm up as it cools. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing. Lift out of pan using parchment, then cut into bars using a long, stiff knife. If granola bars crumble, chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes and then slice.

Yields 18, 2 X 3-inch bars.

OPTIONS

  1. The original King Arthur recipe calls for Sticky Bun Sugar which sounds, well, rather nasty. They offer a substitute of sugar, butter and corn syrup which is outlined in Deb’s recipe. I’ve omitted the corn syrup in my attempts, but I might try it next time; my bars just do not come out all that chewy, and if 2 tbsp of corn syrup will do that without making the bars overly sweet, it might just be worth it.
  2. I used half-n-half coconut oil and butter as the fat, as I was concerned that a full 6 tbsp of coconut oil might be overwhelming, but the coconut flavor, while there, is fairly subtle. If you are a big fan of coconut, feel free to use all coconut oil.
  3. The original recipe calls for 25 minutes of cooking time; I went to 45 minutes. At 25 minutes, the bars were not browned at all and the oats seemed hardly toasted, but it could be that my lack of chewiness is due to overbaking. I may try to pre-toast the oats, then bake the bars for less time.

STORE

At room temperature in an airtight container, with bars separated by wax paper so they do not stick together. In humid weather, store in refrigerator.

SEASON

Year round.

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9 comments

  1. donna

    o.k. Kaela, another kick butt recipe to drool over. When are you going to stop tormenting us non cookers and start selling your goodies!! please, please
    donna

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling to make a chewy granola bar! I’ve tried several times and mine just seem to fall short (or just fall apart). Delicious granola, just not what I was going for. If you discover the secret, please let me know!

  3. WOW! I just picked up some coconut/granola bars tonight at the health food store but honestly, yours look WAY better! I’m definitely going to give the recipe a try!

  4. nancy

    Try honey instead of the corn syrup. It might still be too sweet, but at least its healthier. You do need that in order to make “chewy” granola bars. My problem isn’t my recipe, my problem is that when I bake them in a 13×9 dish, the center is usually never cooked enough when the outsides are getting overcooked. Solution is to use smaller dish. Try it in the bottom of a smaller Corning casserole dish, like maybe a 2 qt. square (round is fine if you don’t care about the shape of the bars.) If you don’t have more than one you’ll have to keep making them until you’re out of mix, but hey! by the time you finish them, the first batch will be cool enough to eat 🙂

    P.S. “What does +/- 2 t S mean to you? ” … looks like slightly more or less than 2 teaspoons of sugar.

  5. Your granola bars look delicious. I have made Deb’s recipe several times and while they are a bit crumbly, they are always a huge hit. I toss the crumbs on a bowl of yogurt and fruit. Mmmm, I need to make more soon!

  6. Erika

    I think your instincts are right on both counts—it helps a ton to have a sugar that is pliable at room temp–corn syrup or honey would do that for you.
    Also, if you over bake, it’s going to take that sugar syrup right over the edge to hard candy and make it crunchy anyway.
    I make Molly Wizenberg’s recipe for Flapjakes (published in Bon Appetit) and they’re usually chewy like rice krispie treats…but once I overbaked them and they came out like rocks. Tasty, but still rocks…

  7. I (loosely) follow the same recipe. I love them- but they do turn out different every time because I tinker too much. I have been using brown rice syrup instead of the corn syrup.
    Yours look gorgeous!

  8. anduin

    I’ve found that my granola made with apple butter or pumpkin/applesauce (both your recipes!) is especially chewy and clumpy. Maybe that would work for granola bars.

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