Here's a good recipe for chewy granola bars packed with salty peanuts and chocolate chips. I'm not going to claim this is health food despite all the oats and nuts. After all, these bars contain quite a bit of the sweet stuff, too. But they do pack a lot of energy into a tasty, portable package if, say, the kids need a boost before soccer or baseball or lacrosse.
Put it this way, before the 11YO had one of these granola bars, he planned to just walk the Moody Street 5K. Next thing you know, all the granola bars are gone and he's practically right behind me on the course, running with his best friend. Maybe there's no correlation. Maybe he was carried by the crowd's cheers. Maybe he's faster without his appendix. But here's what I do know for sure: the kids are already requesting more granola bars.
Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
If you don't have brown rice syrup, you can substitute, as I did, with golden syrup, date syrup, or honey.
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup crisp rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, letting the ends overhang a little.
In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup with a large fork until smooth. Mix in the oil, vanilla, and salt. Add the oats and crisp rice cereal, and stir with the fork until well mixed. Next, run your hands under running water and then knead the mixture firmly, allowing the cereal to crunch up under the pressure. Add the peanuts and chocolate chips, and knead again until well distributed.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press in as firmly and evenly as you can. The firmer you press in the mixture, the better the bars will hold together. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the edges appear golden.
Let the bars cool completely in the pan. Remove from the pan by pulling up the sides of the parchment and set on a cutting board. The best way to slice the bars is to use a chef's knife and press down in one firm motion. Do not saw through the bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Source: Adapted from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.