Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Well, hello there :) Happy New Year!

Long time no see, right? I can’t remember the last time I didn’t post for an entire week, and I certainly didn’t intend for that to be the way we started out 2013. I was greeted with a particularly nasty case of the flu when I woke up last Tuesday, however, and though I’ll spare you the details, I haven’t done much but lay on the couch since. Thank goodness for Shane, he’s been tending to my every need and nursing me back to health the whole time. I finally started to feel human again this weekend and am eager to get back to business as usual around here – I’ve missed you guys!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I’ve yet to cook or bake anything in my kitchen in the new year so yesterday I found myself digging through my draft folder looking for the perfect recipe to share today. I’m not going to lie, the ones I most wanted to share were also the most indulgent… Since it’s still so early in January I decided to wait just a little longer before ruining anyone’s diet :)

These granola bars seemed like a fun compromise instead. They’re an awesome snack and seriously so simple to throw together – there’s not even any baking required! If you’re a fan of the store-bought version, you have to give them a try. I will note that they’re a smidge more fragile than their packaged counterparts, but the flavor is spot-on. And while chocolate chip was always my favorite flavor, you could easily adapt this recipe in so many ways to suit your personal preferences.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
adapted from Lauren’s Latest (via Brown Eyed Baker)

{Note: I used amber agave nectar in place of the honey as that’s all I had on hand at the time. Either should work, so go with the one you prefer. Also, be sure to use quick-cooking oats – don’t substitute rolled oats.}

2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the oats and rice cereal in a heatproof bowl. Add the brown sugar, honey, and butter to a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat under the pan and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir with a rubber spatula until well combined – the dry ingredients should all be moistened. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread in an even layer and press to compact (you really want to compact the mixture or your granola bars will be crumbly). Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture and lightly press down on them with the spatula to compact.

Allow to set for at least 2 hours. (I transferred mine to the fridge briefly to speed things up and make them easier to cut.) Use the foil handles to lift out then cut into bars. Individually wrap the granola bars with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.