While I’ve baked these granola bars countless times over the past few years, they never cease to delight. Deceptively delicious, folks usually think they’re about to bite into a rough piece of bark, leaving a pile of sawdust in their wake, however, these bars are yielding, sweet and crunchy all at once. These granola bars are what I’d imagine the kind of treat you’d slip into a child’s lunch box (do kids still have lunch boxes?) as they scurry off to school. Although in my day we took the subway to school and slurped grape juice and feasted on phosphorescent cheese doodles. But I digress.
If mixed berries aren’t your bag, I’d suggest fig jam or any preserve of our liking. I’ve made this with fig, blueberry, lingonberry, raspberry, apricot and currant preserves, and they were all equally amazing. And clearly I’m munching on a bar right now while I’m waiting for the workday to begin!
INGREDIENTS: Adapted from The Craft of Baking: Back-to-School Raspberry Granola Bars
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup mixed berry preserves
(Makes 16 bars)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool the sheet completely on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and pecans. Pour in the melted butter, and using a wooden spoon, mix together until well combined.
Transfer about two thirds of the dough to the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan, forming a firmly packed layer. Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the preserves over the dough. Evenly sprinkle the remaining dough over the preserves. I love seeing a pop of blistering red poke through the topping, so don’t overdo it, as you’ll be shoveling bricks rather than bars.
Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the top is golden brown and fragrant, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely. Then cut into 2-inch squares. The bars can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Recipe Notes: If you’re not keen on pecans, opt for almonds or pistachios. Certainly, any substantial, meaty nut will do – walnuts are equally fabulous. To note rolled oats aren’t the same as oatmeal – do not make this mistake as I have many, many moons ago. Rolled oats do not equal Quaker instant oatmeal, nor do they equal crap in a packet. As always, I use cane sugar.