White Chocolate Cranberry Granola Bars

Not so very long ago, I made my first successful recipe for homemade granola bars. Not only was I very pleased that I didn’t burn them this time, but they were also nice because they were so much fresher than the ones we buy every week in boxes. They are crunchy instead of that weird flexibleness that comes with store-bought bars so often. And they just taste better – the flavor is more nuanced and just fresher.

White Chocolate Cranberry Granola Bars

So this weekend, instead of buying the usual 2-4 new boxes at the store, I decided to make some more and play with the recipe a little bit, and I’m really pleased. The contrast between the sweet white chocolate topping and the dark molasses flavor really makes these a success.

Here’s what you need:

3 cups Rolled Oats (not Quick Oats!)
2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
2 Tbsp. cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Honey
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Wheat Germ
1/2 cup pepitas
1 cup Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal
1/3 cup dried cranberries
About 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the rolled oats with the melted butter, vegetable oil and salt. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times during the cook time.

While the oats cool, toss the wheat germ, pepitas, rice cereal and cranberries in a mixing bowl. Combine the brown sugar, honey and molasses in a saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Once they have cooled so that they won’t burn your hands, add the oats into the mixing bowl with the other dry goods and toss.

Pour the molasses/sugar/honey mixture into the bowl as you keep stirring. Stir gently until all of the pieces have a light coating of the syrup (you will be able to see when you’ve accomplished this, because the molasses mixture is quite dark).

Spray a baking sheet covered in foil or a Silpat down very well with cooking spray, and dump the mixture onto the tray. Then spray your hands down really well with the nonstick spray and press the granola into a rectangle about a half inch thick. It may not fill up the whole tray and that is OK – what you are looking for is that there are no air pockets between the ingredients.

Bake for 20 minutes, and then allow to cool almost completely – this is so the granola can solidify. If it’s still warm, it will still be flexible and crumble instead of making solid bars.

Invert the granola block onto a cutting board (don’t dump! Place a cutting board on top of the block, and then carefully turn upside down with your hand under the cutting board). Cut into approximately 2×5-inch rectangles.

Microwave the white chocolate chips and the cream together in 15-second bursts, stirring in between, until they have melted. Drizzle over the tops of the bars. I like to use a zip top bag with a VERY TINY hole cut out of the corner.

Allow to cool completely and store in a sealed container, separated by layers of parchment paper (they will stick to each other, otherwise).

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