This is copy cat week on Cupcake Muffin, and here's another copy cat recipe that tastes just like the original! I got my sister the cookbook Power Hungry for Christmas, and it has a bunch of different copy cat recipes of popular granola and power bars (plus lots of originals). I wanted to make her some bars to go with the book, so my Mom and I put together these near-perfect replicas of Nature Valley crunchy granola bars. The fun part of making your own bars rather than buying those at the store is that you can come up with your own flavor combinations -- we went with macadamia nuts and mini chocolate chips (yum!). The bars are easy to put together, and get great crunch from brown rice cereal (think Rice Krispies made with brown rice), nuts, and a quick honey-brown sugar syrup that holds everything together and hardens as the bars cool.
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars with Macadamia Nuts and Chocolate Chips (adapted from Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook)
Makes 16 bars
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1-1/4 cup crisp brown rice cereal
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
3 T water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
Handful of mini chocolate chips, for topping
1. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment and spray with oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread the oats on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the oats are toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the brown rice cereal and nuts.
3. Turn down the oven to 325 degrees.
4. Combine the brown sugar, honey, water, oil, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble vigorously. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over oat mixture, mixing with a spatula until everything is evenly coated.
5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place a large piece of parchment or wax paper over the bars and use it to spread, flatten, and compact the mixture firmly and evenly. Discard the paper.
6. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips (as many as you like!).
7. Bake 22-25 minutes, until deeply golden brown.
8. While the bars are still warm, score with a sharp knife so they will be easier to cut later -- cut into 16 bars. When the bars are completely cool, cut them apart completely and store in an airtight container for 5 days at room temperature, 2 weeks in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer (thaw 30 minutes before eating).