Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I have an abiding love of granola bars.  I think I’ve had this obsession since I was a little kid, because I can remember being consistently excited about granola bars in almost any form throughout elementary school.  Case in point: I still, after 21 years, associate chewy coconut-almond granola bars with going to our neighborhood library after school with my Mom.  (Granola bars, the library, time with my Mom…it’s like an amalgamation of all things awesome.)
This love of granola bars should’ve subsided when I went gluten-free, but it didn’t.  Not only did it not go away, it got worse.  For over three years, I’ve been trying to find gluten-free granola bars that I like.  Something chewy, sweet but not too sweet, and delicious.  For over three years, I’ve been wandering the aisles of health food stores like a lost, disappointed-yet-still-hopeful puppy searching for its home.  (Okay, okay – it’s probably not that sad, but it’s close.)  For over three years, my search has been fruitless.
I was getting increasingly irritated by this.  I mean, it can’t be that hard to find some good GF granola bars, can it?!
Turns out, it can.  And last night was the final straw.
Hubs and I were out grocery shopping, and lo – a pack of GF peanut butter-chocolate chip granola bars, calling to me from the shelf! I got excited!  I immediately grabbed them, despite the fact that they were over $5 for a pack of 6 bars!  I paid!  I got to the car, opened the box, and couldn’t wait to dig in to what I hoped would be a delicious granola bar!
And then…NO.  Just no.  First, the bars were freaking miniscule.  Such wee little granola bars for such a hefty price tag doth not a happy Lillian make.  But I held out hope, took a bite, and…NO.  Just no.  It tasted awful.
“Um, dude,” said Hubs while wrinkling his nose, “That thing smells like turds.”
 I sniffed the granola bar.  He was right.  It totally smelled like turds.

I was peeved.  I was at the end of my gluten-free granola bar rope, and I was not having any more of this crap.  It was time to take action.  I was going to make my own granola bars, thankyouverymuch, and I was going to make something eleventy zillion times better than anything I’d choked down from the grocery store.  I was going to make this happen.
 When we got home, I set about finding a gluten, dairy, and egg free granola bar recipe that I could roll with and tweak to meet my tastes.  I found this one and changed things up a bit (some of the ingredients are different, but the process remains the same) – and then I began baking with a vengeance. 
Once they were in the oven, they smelled goooooood.  And once they came out of the oven, they tasted awesome.  I was vindicated!
Gluten-Free Granola Bars of Righteous Vindication
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup Earth Balance
Ener-G Egg Replacer - equivalent to 1 egg
3/4 cup GF oat flour (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cup GF rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tablespoons rice syrup

Prep:  Generously grease a 9x12 inch pan, and preheat the oven to 350.  
Step 1:  In a large bowl, beat the sugar and the Earth Balance until thoroughly mixed.
Step 2:  Add the rice syrup, Ener-G egg replacer, and vanilla; beat until smooth.  
Step 3:  Add oat flour, oats, baking powder, salt and and xanthan gum; beat until mixed.
Step 4:  Add chocolate chips and peanut butter.

Step 5:  Press into baking pan, and smooth it out 
Step 6:  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.  After it's done baking, let it cool - it's much more crumbly when hot, so cutting it into bars is much easier when it's cool!

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