I'm going to interpret "cook" in this one pretty loosely. Because currently I want to learn how to make my own granola bars. More Betty Crocker than Wolfgang Puck, I know. But since most store-brand granola bars are candy bars in disguise, I like the idea that I could make my own with only the good stuff...real, pronounceable ingredients. I started with a recipe from Food Network's Ellie Krieger. I figure she's got some street cred :)
Part of Ellie's philosophy is that we should never consider a food off limits, or let it evoke a feeling of guilt. As a result, her recipes are built on a consistent pyramid--she starts with the most wholesome ingredients as the base (she coins these "Usually" foods), adds in few ingredients that, although delicious, fall on the B-team nutritionally ("Sometimes" foods), and once in a while will strategically place some tiny amounts of decadent ingredients ("Rarely" foods).
Her recipe for granola bars was true to her Usually/Sometimes/Rarely pyramid:
The Method (Full recipe from link above)
Combine dry ingredients:
Combine wet ingredients:
After the mixture is combined, you bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. As the bars are baking, put the preserves over high heat and bring them to a boil. The heated preserves gets spread over the bars as soon as they come out of the oven, giving them a fruity "frosting".
I wanted so badly to like these bars, but they just were kind of...like a flavorless mouthful of wheat flour. The mother, on the other hand, loved them. I guess that's just as well, because otherwise the whole batch would have gone to waste :)
On the bright side, I know what to look for in my next attempt. While this had a stellar ingredient list, the consistency and texture were off. I'm looking for something chewy with a more textured base. This was too baked good-esque, and had the same mouth drying effect of eating a saltine.
The search continues...