We eat a lot of oats around here. In fact, I just searched through my email receipts so that I could give you some sort of number, and it turns out we eat about 60 pounds of oats, just the two of us, every year. Hoo-ey!
Mostly, we eat them for breakfast. I buy them from Maine, online from a farm called Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, and they are organic and Maine-grown and make top-notch homemade granola. But thanks to my sister [hi Anna!], we have now found a new all-day snacking use for them, and between that and the baby, I predict our annual consumption will soon be in the high eighties. Please, no crop failures.
So, what is that beauty up there? That is one of the Granola Bars with Chocolate featured in the New York Times article that Anna sent me last week. It is also addictive, and not entirely healthy, but also not entirely unhealthy. The bars are made up mostly of oats, but also of butter and honey and dark chocolate. They hold up the way a granola bar should—they're chewy but not hard, they don't fall apart—and they have a hint of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. In short, they are absolutely lovely.
I should have noticed them earlier, since the paper pulled the base recipe from a cookbook I have and love—Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain—but her version recommended dried fruit instead of chocolate. What can I say? Chocolate gets my attention.
GRANOLA BARS WITH CHOCOLATE
Alex says these are too chocolately. That phrase really isn't in my vocabulary, but if you're not a chocolate person, try making these with dried fruit instead. Oh! and a note about the wheat bran: the NYT recipe uses flaxseed meal, and the headnote in Kim Boyce's original says you can also use wheat germ. I just used coarsely ground wheat from our grain CSA.
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli's 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease an 8" by 8" glass or metal baking pan.
Melt the butter in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are lightly toasted—about 8 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn—they should smell toasty and should be, in Kim's words, about two shades darker. Turn off the heat and spoon the oats into a mixing bowl.
Wipe the pan clean and add the honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and keep it at a gentle bubble for 5 minutes. Pour this syrup over the oats and stir well. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake the bars for 20 minutes, taking care not to let them brown or they'll get hard instead of chewy. Let them cool completely; then cut them into squares and store in an airtight container.