Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunflower Seed Granola Bars

I thought I'd branch out a little today and finally make a non-soup recipe that I've been meaning to get around to for a while. While it's not quite baking and dessert-esque, I figured learning to make my own granola bars would be a welcome change from making dinner after dinner....

I only made one slight modification to this recipe. I used dried cranberries instead of the dried apricots or raisins suggested. I don't have anything against raisins or apricots; I just happen to have an excess of dried cranberries this week for some reason. Whenever I go food shopping, I seem to forget that I already have cranberries at home. Oh well, at least they're good for me.

Overall, this recipe is pretty darn simple to make. It also gave me a chance to use my new metal baking pan. I think that's why I held out so long before making this one: I didn't have the baking pan although I could have used my glass one if I shortened the cooking time or lowered the oven temp. Too much fussing...

The only thing I found didn't quite work for me the way the recipe said it should was letting the oil/corn syrup/honey combination simmer to thicken. I let it simmer all right, but it didn't really thicken that I could tell. Maybe it was my mental block against the thought that I used 1/3 cup of oil as prescribed? Regardless, I gave it a chance to thicken, and when it didn't really thicken, I used it anyway.

A word to the wise: when you get near the bottom of the recipe and you've removed your pan from the oven to cool on a rack, DON'T do as I did and believe this to mean you should invert the contents of the pan onto the rack. Turns out this is NOT what is meant! You'll end up with 3/4 of your granola "bars" scattered all over the counter, stove and floor, even as you suddenly realize mid-inversion that maybe you shouldn't be doing that... too late.

If you and I make the same mistake, quickly grab a spatula and scoop your scattered granola back into the pan. Smoosh it down smoothly again so that it doesn't look like you accidently dumped it out and chuck it back in the oven for a couple of minutes. When you take it out again, LEAVE IT IN THE PAN and put the pan on the rack to cool. Then go for a 5k run in the park and your granola bars should be cool upon your return.

Be a little careful when eating your granola bars if your version had to cook a little longer for repairs like mine did. My bars are pretty solid, essentially just one 9x13 bar right now, but tasty nonetheless. I'll smash them apart a little later tonight so that I can take one for lunch tomorrow.

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