IT'S BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!!!!!! YAY!!! We heart back-to-school.
Admittedly, it's mostly because the entire event involves shopping. A particular BEB skill.
Like shopping for new clothes. And, shopping for new shoes. Maybe potentially upgrading to a shiny new (pink) bicycle with awesome (silver) basket. Picking out a new backpack...unless your Mummy is mean like ours and insists the Eddie Bauer backpacks are good FOR LIFE and you do not need a new monogrammed LL Bean one because, well, she's mean. Whatever. It's fine. We're over it.
But, really, most importantly, what we miss about back to school is shopping for new school supplies.
Oh, how we grow weak in the confines of a Staples or Office Max! All those perfectly packaged office supplies. Be still our beating hearts. If only there was a bakery inside we would NEVER leave. Literally.
And don't pretend you don't agree. There is just something about pristine notebooks and knowing where all 6 of your new mechanical pencils are...you know, before you loan them out to various people including your crush whom you hope finds a way to parlay the borrowed pencil into a 'date' at the mall. Unless of course he eats the mechanical pencil in which case you need to rethink your crush in general.
Wait, where were we?
Oh right. School supplies.
So strong is our obsession that we once dedicated an entire Christmas list to (we kid you not, this is verbatim) "cool pens, cool pencils, a cool Trapper Keeper, cool folders and cool stickers." Obviously, the word du jour in 1991 was "cool."
But, this is a baking blog. So, we just hope that some homemade granola bars will in some way evoke the long-lost back to school feeling that we so miss. And if they don't, there are some new colored Sharpies calling our names...
Homemade Granola Bars
Makes 12 large bars
Adapted from Joanne Chang
For the Jam:
1 cup dried apples
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried apricots
1/3 granulated sugar
2 cups water
For the Bars:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup packed, light brown sugar (dark would be fine too)
2/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
6 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons flaxseeds
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons millet
First make the jam. In a medium saucepan, combine the dried fruits, sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and allow to cool for about an hour. Then, transfer the entire pan's contents to a food processor and pulse several times until a chunky jam forms. Set aside (or you can store in an air tight container for 5 days in advance of baking the bars).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9x13" brownie pan with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, coconut, walnuts, salt, cinnamon and butter. Pulse together until the mixture is evenly combined. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle the honey over the top. Stir the honey into the oats blend until the mixture is clumpy and comes together. Press 2/3 of the oats/honey mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and place the remaining oats/honey mixture into the fridge.
Bake the crust for 30-40 minutes until light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and spread the chunky jam evenly over the top with a spoon. Remove the reserved oats/honey mixture from the fridge and break it up with your hands. Add the flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and millet and then sprinkle the new oats/honey/seeds clumps over the top of the jam as you would with a crumble.
Return the completed granola bars to the oven to bake for another 50-55 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 2-3 hours until the bars are cool enough to cut without falling to pieces.