No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

Added on by Caroline Zhang.
No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars | Pass the Cocoa
No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars | Pass the Cocoa

To the individual who made 50 pineapple Jello shots and set them on refrigerator door in the Winthrop kitchen, which promptly spilled all over my feet when I opened the fridge:

Just so you know, putting pineapple pieces in Jello will prevent it from setting. There are enzymes in pineapple that break up the proteins in gelatin. Thus, the soupy Jello shots that I spilled all over the floor. Sorry about that—it looked like those shots took a lot of work, but they wouldn’t have worked out anyways…I hope you found another source of booze for the evening. And that next time you don’t stick all of the shots on the door of the refrigerator, which, you know, is the bit that always yanked open and closed.

I don’t mean to be passive-aggressive, Jello person, really. I think little disasters like this in a communal dorm kitchen have actually made me appreciate the simple things in baking. I tend to turn my nose up at standard cookie and muffin recipes and such when I'm at home, always looking for something fancy and new and challenging. Yet somehow a simple biscuit or banana bread suddenly gains novelty when I'm at school. I always marvel that my haphazard attempts at baking, the last-minute substitutions for ingredients I forgot to get, the lack of proper equipment, and slipping on liquid Jello on the floor (ahem), somehow are able to yield fresh, homemade scones, or a gooey, fragrant pan of brownies. Baking seems more magical, more special.

That definitely goes for homemade granola, like these no-bake chewy bars. It’s exciting to make a simple snack that tastes a hundred times better than the stuff you buy at CVS in the square. They take just a few basic pantry staples (like, maybe three more ingredients than your Jello shots), yet, as always with baking, the sum is so much greater than the parts.

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars | Pass the Cocoa
No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars | Pass the Cocoa

They are chewy, sweet (but not too sweet), and crunchy from the nuts, which make these such a healthy and filling snack. Nuts contain healthy fats and fiber that are reported to help do all sorts of things, from making you feel full longer to improving cardiovascular health.  (You can read all about it here.) Don’t quote me on this, but they’d probably work as hangover food too. 

I adapted these from David Lebovitz’s recipe, which for some reason is called “no-bake granola” even though the first step is “preheat the oven to 350 F.” Very deceiving. Anyways, my version just requires a skillet, a mixing bowl, a spoon, and something to put your granola in. You could probably find all the equipment even in the Winthrop kitchen. 

It yields a wonderfully fragrant and flavorful granola—oh, and if you want to get clean slices, you can chill it for a while. Because, you know, it does actually set in the fridge. 

Hope the Jello shot making is more successful next time,

This post was done in collaboration with All opinions are my own.

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

Click here for the printer-friendly recipe.
Yields: 16 bars
Adapted from David Lebovitz

½ cup whole almonds (walnuts, pecans, or a mix of all three can be substituted)
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ cup rolled oats (if making these gluten-free, make sure to use certified gluten-free oats)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ freeze-dried (or normally dried) fruit, such as strawberries or apples
½ cup dates, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons flax seeds
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon vanilla

Toast the nuts. Place the nuts in a large skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally to prevent them from burning, until they are lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop them. Place them in a large mixing bowl.

In the same skillet, melt the butter, and add the oats and salt. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats begin to toast and turn slightly golden. Pour them in the mixing bowl as well. 

Add the fruit, dates, and flax seeds to the mixing bowl.

Place the peanut butter and honey in the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth and combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Pour the peanut butter/honey mixture over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until well-combined. It should be very thick and sticky. Press the mixture into an 8x8 inch baking pan lined with foil or parchment paper. 

Let cool completely, then slice into squares. If the granola is too sticky to slice, place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour before cutting.