Store-bought granola bars and granola cereals are so expensive and have such simple ingredients that it doesn’t make sense to me not to make our own. Of course, the right recipe is essential. We’ve tried some that have turned out bars so hard you might chip a tooth! But this one, modified slightly from one I found in 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney, is just right. The bars are nice and chewy and just the right amount of sweet!
Chop 1 C. raisins until they’re about one-eighth their original size. (Chopping them releases their sugars, which helps the bars stick together while remaining chewy.) In a medium bowl, combine the raisins with 1/2 C. chopped nuts (I use walnuts), 3 C. quick-cooking oats, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 3/4 tsp. salt.
In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 C. maple syrup*, 1/4 C. water or apple-based juice, and 2 T. brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Drizzle over oat mixture and stir until evenly moistened.
Line a baking sheet with foil. With hands moistened to prevent sticking, make the mixture into logs 3-4″ long. Once you’ve made them all (about 10), flatten them with the back of a wide knife and otherwise shape as desired.
Bake for about 27 minutes at 325°F, until lightly brown. Let cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes. then transfer bars to a rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (though I doubt any of them will last that long…).
*Confession: I haven’t actually used maple syrup to make these. A few years ago, I made an unsuccessful attempt at apple jelly. It never set (I think because I didn’t use enough apple peels to get the necessary pectin), but the product was a batch of excellent apple-flavored syrup, really not too different in taste or viscosity from maple syrup–and much, much cheaper! So if you have some failed jelly around the house, it would make a great ingredient for this recipe.