Perfect Chewy Granola Bars

These bars were almost famous at our Cafe.  They are chewy, natural and have the perfect flavor balance.  We sold out almost every time we cut them into their perfect rectangles and displayed them.  I have had many a request for this recipe over the years…I  even had a customer try to trick a staff member into giving it to her!  Alas…our Cafe years are behind us now and it’s time to share, share, share!!

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Perfect Chewy Granola Bars  (Make sure you check the bottom of the page for substitutions!!)

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup margarine
2/3 cup peanut butter (you can substitute almond butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sunflower seeds
3 cups large flake oatmeal
1 cup coconut
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup flax seeds (or wheat germ)
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray your baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper and spray again.
Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, peanut butter and vanilla extract in your mixer.  Combine until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Turn out into your pan and press down.  In order to get a nice, uniform thickness, spray your 1 cup measure with non-stick spray and press the mixture down firmly.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  LET COOL FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR before you cut!  Cutting these bars while they are warm will only cause un-even and messy cuts.  They need to be cool…I even put them in the fridge sometimes to ensure this!  Your bars should be cut uniform neatly!  When cool, turn upside down on your cutting board and cut in squares.  The bottom is always more even and visually uniform.

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Substitutions

I have made these bars many, many ways and as long as you follow the exact measurement for wet ingredients and dry…they will come out wonderful.  Here are some favorite substitutions I have tried with rave reviews.

Instead of 3 cups of the oatmeal, use  1 1/2 cups of crisped rice cereal and 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal
Instead of 1 cup of dried cranberries, use 1 cup of chocolate chips
Instead of 1 1/2 cups of whole almonds, use 1 1/2 cups of peanuts
Instead of 1 cup of sunflower seeds, use 1 cup of ANY OTHER NUT!

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