There are a few food items you read about over and over again. Like macarons. I can meanwhile understand the obsession with macarons, because I’ve tried some. Shop-bought – I couldn’t be bothered to make them myself (yet). Then there’s granola bars. For quite some time now, I’ve been wondering what people’s obsession is with granola bars. I read about them in books – novels, that is, not cookbooks – and every other blog seemed to have a recipe for them. I then discovered they were actually what we call muesli bars here in Germany. It wasn’t until I read this post on Shoots & Roots via FoodPress, though, that I became seriously interested. And made some as well, rather spontaneously.
I used the recipe from Shoots & Roots as a basic guideline, making some adjustments according to my tastes and to what I had in the pantry due to the spontaneous nature of this enterprise.
Another spontaneous thing was the allergic reaction I had to some of the nuts I used in these bars. Through a self-experiment later on I found out it was the brazil nuts, so I’ll be adapting the recipe yet again when I make these muesli bars in the future…
2 cups / 500 g rolled oats
½ cup / 125 g mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1 cup / 250 g mixed nuts, broken into pieces or roughly chopped (I used pecans, walnuts and brazil nuts)
1 ½ cups / 375 g dried fruit (I used dried cranberries and dried coconut strips)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup Golden Syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
approx. 2 tbsp grated milk chocolate
350 g milk chocolate couverture
Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF. Butter a 24 x 32 cm baking sheet.
Spread the oats, seeds and nuts onto another baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes. I stirred mine every 5 minutes for even browning.
Meanwhile, in a heavy based pan, combine the honey, Golden Syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt, and place over medium heat. Stir with a wire whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. [Note: make sure the pot is large enough to hold the oats etc as well! I almost used a too small pot until I remembered the dry ingredients would be added later.]
Remove dry ingredients from oven, and reduce heat to 150ºC / 300ºF. Add ingredients to the sugar mixture, then add the dried fruits, and stir well, making sure everything’s covered in the sugar mixture.
Pour everything onto the buttered baking sheet. Add the grated chocolate, stir a bit through the oats-sugar mixture, then flatten it down to get an even surface. [I only used about 2 tbsp of grated chocolate because my grater wasn’t really very good, so I couldn’t be bothered to grate more.]
Bake for another 25 minutes, then take out of the oven and leave to cool. [The original recipe has chocolate drops in the mixture, and requires chocolate drops to be spread over the warm surface of the baked goods. I chose to use couverture, because that’s what I had at home.]
Melt the couverture over a bain-marie, then pour over the cooled muesli mixture. Let cool completely. [I let mine cool for about 10 minutes, then put them in the fridge to cool further.] Cut or break into individual bars. I found that if they’re not eaten straight away, they’re best kept in the fridge.
As you can see, I individually wrapped my bars into grease-proof paper and sealed it with some fancy sticky tape. I took them to work the next day, and it felt like handing out presents. Not to brag, but the feedback on the bars was great, ranging from superb to exquisite, to fantastic, and requests for the recipe…