Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Making these bars reminds me of when my kids were little.  I often had peanut butter granola bars on hand for an after school snack and felt reassured by the fact that my progeny were getting at least a modicum of nutrition.

The original recipe that I used had corn syrup in it.  I understand that these days corn syrup is considered the greatest of all food sins, but seriously, aren’t we taking that just a little bit too far?  Not to be mean, but the other day I was reading a blog and the writer was practically having a writing seizure about corn syrup.  It’s been kind of interesting over the years watching what causes a food uproar and what becomes the ‘must eat’ food of the moment.  Both the ‘uproars’ and the ‘must eats’ have their points, but to declare a single food as Satan or Savior makes for challenging meal/snack planning and eating.  And then there are the crazes (I said crazes not ‘crazies)…oh gosh.

Would it rock your world too much if I told you that antifreeze is organic and is in the sugar family?  And chemically is only a tiny bit different than glycerol, which is used in personal hygiene products such as hand lotions or toothpaste and medications such as cough syrup…and as a filler in low-fat cookies?  Just FYI.

So, I am giving you some alternatives here on this recipe.  Go with your gut and substitute at will.  I know that I have just about made myself nuts trying to come up with the perfect recipe for peanut butter granola bars.  This little recipe is what it is and I like it.

The bars are dense, chewy, and big on flavor.  Use the granola recipe provided or use a granola of your choice.  Unlike many other granola bars, these are not baked.  The peanut butter, agave or corn syrup, and brown sugar are cooked in a small pot on the stove-top, then mixed with the granola.  The mixture is put in an 8″ x 8″ pan or dish, allowed to cool, and then sliced into 12 bars.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’
Printable Recipe

  • 4 cups granola (use your own or try the recipe given below)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit of preference
  • 1/3 cup agave OR 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions

  1. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan or dish.  Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dried cranberries or other dried fruit and the granola.  Set aside.
  3. In a small sauce pot, combine agave or corn syrup, brown sugar, and peanut butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until hot and bubbly.  This process goes fairly quickly and the mixture will burn easily if not stirred.
  4. Pour peanut butter mixture over the granola mixture.  Stir well to combine.
  5. Press mixture evenly in the prepared baking pan.  Allow to cool completely, then cut into 12 bars. (I cut once down the middle of the pan, then made 5 cuts across the pan.)
  6. For storage: Wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap.  They are best the first week, but will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  For longer storage, refrigerate them for up to a month.

Optional Granola Recipe
Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans or almonds)
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil ( do not use olive oil–wrong flavor profile for this granola)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (almond extract is also an excellent choice)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
  2. Mix oats, wheat germ, coconut, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower kernels, nuts and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium size bowl mix together the brown sugar, honey, oil, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour into 9″ x 13″ baking dish or pan. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow granola to cool in pan. After the granola has cooled, using a pancake turner, gently slide the turner beneath the granola to break it up. Store in a zip-style plastic bag or other container of your choice.
Mix the granola and the dried fruit together in a large bowl.
Put the peanut butter, brown sugar, and agave or corn syrup in a smallish sauce pot.
 Mix all together.  Then over medium heat, stir until things get all hot and bubbly.  Don’t stop stirring because this will burn quite easily.
 Pour the hot peanut butter mixture over the granola and dried fruit mixture.
 Stir it all up together until the peanut butter mixture is well distributed throughout the granola.
 Put the granola bar mixture into a greased 8″ x 8″ baking dish or baking pan.  When cool, cut into 12 bars.  Yes, I forgot to take a picture of the cut bars before I removed them from the dish.

Comments

  1. says

    Terri,

    Do you know if using pure maple syrup instead of agave or corn syrup would work well?

    Also, how long do these bars last? Can you refrigerate or freeze them?

  2. says

    Good questions, Nabeela, and thanks for dropping by. As for the maple syrup, I am not sure. I have wondered about using it, and have read a little about its cooking properties. I would suggest visiting this link http://www.best-ever-cookie-collection.com/granola-bar-recipes.html for a couple of recipes using maple syrup.

    Individually wrapped and stored at room temperature(which I forgot to mention in the recipe, but have now included it–thanks for the reminder) these bars are at their best when used within the first week, but are also good in week two. Refrigerating them will keep them fresh for several weeks. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be frozen–just make sure that they are well wrapped to protect against freezer burn. If freezing, I would wrap the bars individually in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and then store the bars in a double-lined zip-style freezer bag (Ziploc makes a double lined freezer bag). I wouldn’t store the bars frozen for more than a month or two.

  3. says

    Ok so I made these yesterday…I used maple syrup instead of agave or corn syrup and the end result was that my granola bars didnt hold together. I don’t know if it was because I used maple syrup or the fact that I also omitted using brown sugar…

    None the less, we have been enjoying eating the bars just like granola. And they are DELICIOUS!

  4. says

    Nabeela–it was probably a combination of both factors. The bars need something to hold them together, and the brown sugar would have reached a “gummier” state with the boiling than would the maple syrup. I would guess that maple syrup would need to have something else with it to act as a suitable binder.

    Anyway, thanks for providing with the information that maple syrup used alone in this recipe tastes good, but is not a good replacement for the agave (or corn syrup) and the brown sugar.

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