Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (No Bake)
Not sure about everyone else, but I like to keep snacks handy: in my purse, in the car, and of course in my office (when I worked that is). The easiest and best snacks for me were always store-bought granola bars, protein or energy bars, or my own concoction of trail mix.
My obsession for carrying snacks around only became more intensified once I had Bebe. She’s always been a pretty good eater, but now that she’s a preschooler and growing like a sunflower she is always in need of food. Within an hour (sometimes sooner) of eating breakfast or lunch she’ll tell me she’s hungry and if she could please have a snack. Then there’s actual snack-time around 10:30 AM or 3:30 PM during which she also requires a snack. Let’s just say that I never leave the house without snacks – for her or for me.
My two-favorite store bought granola bars were always chewy chocolate chip by Quaker and crunchy peanut butter by Nature Valley. I always kept a box of the chewy chocolate chip granola bars at my office, and they hold-up well in the car or a purse, although the condition of the chocolate chips were never guaranteed in warmer weather.
I’ve been thinking about trying to make a batch of granola bars at home but wasn’t really inspired until my friend brought a batch to Bebe’s ballet class and she mentioned that she couldn’t get the bars to hold their shape. The ones she made were crunchy granola bars, and while I have plans (and the ingredients) to make a batch of crunchy ones, I found a recipe for chewy granola bars and it’s a no-baking required recipe, and quite frankly, this mama can’t pass up an easy no-bake recipe to try. It’s definitely a keeper.
I made a couple batches of these chewy chocolate chip granola bars for Bebe’s Earth Day Carnival at preschool and the kids seemed to enjoy it, probably because it’s got a nice sweetness about them. The good part is that there are no additives or preservatives and they’re wholesome. I made another version of this chewy granola bar which I’ll share shortly.
Now, for pure entertainments sake or because I have too much time on my hands this afternoon (or because you have nothing better to do at this time than read this or if you don’t, just skip it and go to the recipe), I thought I’d share my lunch time conversation with my 3-year old. It went something like this:
Bebe: What’s this mommy? Is it a wedding movie? [She brought me the Princess Bride DVD because I left it out, hoping to watch my favorite movie that I haven’t seen in a very long time.]
Me: Yes, it is.
Bebe: Tell me the story mommy? What happens?
Me: Well, the girl, who isn’t really a princess but looks like a princess because she’s wearing a tiara [photo on the DVD cover] falls in love with a farm boy who becomes a pirate. Then there’s an evil prince that kidnaps the pretty girl (which is like Bananas Gorilla (from Richard Scary’s books) stealing something, in this case a person, I explain), and the pirate saves the girl and then she marries the pirate and they live happily ever after.
Bebe: That’s a short movie. The princess marries the pirate?
Bebe: No, mommy! That’s not right. The princess is supposed to marry the prince.
Me: [I laugh.]
Bebe: After I get married, maybe I’ll have babies and maybe I’ll have a doggie. You’ll still live here, and I’m going to live somewhere else maybe. But you can come see me!
Me: [I laugh, because this is one of the stories I’ve told her, about what might happen when she grows up.]
Bebe: Do you know what other house I’m going to live in? Well after I get married I’m gonna live in a different house. Nene [her big sis] is still gonna live in [names our town], Mommy and Daddy gonna still live in [names our town] too.
Bebe: Daddy’s going to be so shocked. Maybe I shouldn’t do that. Maybe you should stop me from doing that.
Me: Doing what?
Bebe: Getting married! I don’t want to get married.
Me: How come you don’t want to get married?
Me: Because why? [She doesn’t answer me, but I think it’s because she doesn’t want to move away yet and live in a different house than us.]
Bebe: Mommy is that what you did? You got married and had babies?
Me: Yes, I married Daddy and had you – you’re my baby.
Bebe: Oh. Do you have other babies? Casie? What about baby Maddie or Quentin? Are they your babies?
Me: No, they are Auntie M’s babies, remember? They are your cousins.
Bebe: Oh. You have a brother, and it starts with the letter “T”. What does it [T] sound like mommy? “Ta-Ta-Ta”
Me: What does that have to do with being married?
Bebe: Well, that’s your brother, and I tell him to not put shoes in my room because there’s a sign on my door with ‘no shoes’.
Me: What does that have to do with being married? Auntie M got married to Uncle T.
Bebe: That makes sense, mommy. Who lives with Uncle T? Uncle, Auntie M, Maddie and Quentin. They don’t have a lot of nieces. Maybe they need more.
Me: What? [That would mean I would need to have more babies for my brother to have more nieces but of course my Bebe doesn’t get this.]
Bebe: Maybe we can get them a dog since not a lot of people live with them.
Me: [Laughing] Maybe.
Bebe: [Topics of conversation quickly jump from one to the next.] Did some of the people take out your blood?
Me: [I had my blood drawn this morning.] Yes, a lady drew my blood.
Bebe: How did they do that?
Me: A phlebotomist is someone who takes blood, so she did it.
Me: With a needle.
Bebe: Did they put it back in after? [The blood.]
Me: No, they had to keep my blood for tests.
Bebe: Did it hurt?
Me: No not really.
Bebe: I’m brave at the doctors.
Me: Yes, yes you are very brave at the doctors.
Bebe: How about aunts? Do aunts get married? [Another topic jump.]
Me: What kind of aunts?
Bebe: Bugs, like insects.
Me: No, bugs don’t get married.
Bebe: Ok, mommy, let’s color and draw your blood. Or you can draw a blood pool. [Bebe had swim lesson at the pool the other day. Sometimes we draw pictures of the pool, but with water.]
Me: [Laughing.] Why do I want to draw my blood or a blood pool? [I realize it’s because I told her the phlebotomist DREW my blood. I’m cracking up at this point because there’s still confusion about someone taking my blood and she thinks that somebody drew a picture of my blood.]
Bebe: How do they draw your blood?
Me: With a needle.
Bebe: That’s silly! Do you want to draw a blood pool instead with my markers?
Me: [Laughing] I love you Bebe.
Bebe: Am I the funniest girl?
Me: Yes, you are.
So there you have it. Total nonsensical, yet sensical conversations between my three year-old and myself. This went on for a good 10 minutes or so. She would just keep on talking if we kept the conversation going. She certainly talks a lot… And she’s funny. Definitely keeps me entertained.
– A day in my life.
Tips for Successful Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars:
1. Line square tin pan with parchment paper for easily removing bars from the pan. Grease exposed sides.
2. Use a cylindrical jar to press down the chewy granola mixture into the pan. Press down A LOT. Wait to add the chocolate chips until the granola mixture has cooled and press down with a jar, not with your hands (so the chips don’t melt).
3. Prior to cutting the bars, refrigerate the chewy granola bar in the pan for 15 – 20 minutes. Makes sure the mixture is holding together and it makes them easier to cut.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup honey
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups quick cooking 1-minute oats
- 1 cup rice krispies
- 2 tablespoon mini chocolate chips (gluten free, nut-allergy free available at Sprouts)
- Using a square 8 x 8 tin pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly butter the sides not covered with the paper. Set aside. TIP: The parchment paper will make it very easy to remove the bars from the pan!
- In a large bowl, combine quick oats and rice krispies.
- In a small sauce pan, combine butter, honey and brown sugar. Bring to a boil on medium high heat.
- When the mixture bubbles, turn the heat to medium low and simmer for 2 minutes. TIP: Make sure you bring to a boil first then simmer. If the mixture doesn't cook long enough your bars won't hold together.
- After 2 minutes, add the vanilla extract and quickly stir until the alcohol evaporates (30 seconds).
- Pour the hot mixture over the oats and krispies and quickly toss with a spatula until all of the dry ingredients are coated and thoroughly mixed.
- Quickly pour into the prepared tin pan, and evenly spread out the mixture with the spatula and press down.
- Fold the parchment paper over the chewy granola mixture and press down using your hands. Press down really hard! (You might need an extra piece of parchment paper to completely cover the mixture. TIP: Use a can or jar to press down the chewy granola mixture even more. If the mixture isn't compacted well enough into the pan, it won't hold.
- Let the chewy granola mixture cool for about 15 - 20 minutes, until it's not hot anymore so it won't melt the chocolate chips.
- Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips. Cover with parchment paper and then use a can or jar to press the chocolate chips into the chewy granola mixture. TIP: Don't use your hands because they will melt the chocolate chips!
- Allow the chewy granola bars to cool for a 2 to 3 hours. TIP: Just before I'm ready to cut the bars, I put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the parchment paper. Using a serrated knife, slice the bars into 1 to 11/2 inch wide strips. For larger big-kid bars, cut the bars in half. For smaller bites, cut the strips into small 1-inch squares.
- Store the chewy granola bars in an airtight container on the counter for up to 2 days. Or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.