Chewy Monster Bars

Baking for my family (or anyone for that matter) is one of my favorite things to do. About this time of year, I go on a baking spree! I don’t know what it is about the fall that makes me want to break out the sugar and sprinkles! This past weekend I made Pumpkin Bread… so yummy… and now, only two days later, I’m ready to bake again! Have you ever had those Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bars? They are a favorite in my house; we usually buy the gigantic box at the Sam’s Club. These Chewy Monster Bars are kind of a mix between one of those and a Monster Cookie. It’s square and chewy, with oatmeal and karo syrup like a granola bar, but chocked full of goodies like a Monster Cookie. A few years ago at a Bridal Shower, the sister of the bride made some homemade chewy granola bars. They were de-licious! So I got her recipe and i’ve made them several times since. One day, I was really in the mood for those bars but didn’t have the two kinds of seeds the recipe called for. So I went on an expedition in my pantry, pulling out anything that could go in a granola bar… coconut, chocolate chips, M&M’s, pecans, peanut butter, oats, and walnuts. And thought, “Yep… This should just about replace a couple seeds.” Ha! And the Chewy Monster Bar was born. These bars are so simple to make and are done in under 30 minutes (bake time included!), which makes them perfect for a last minute dessert or contribution to a tailgate party or bake sale. You can also change the ingredients based on your tastes (or food allergies, as the case may be). I usually have one right after pulling them out of the oven, but they hold together better as true “bars” after cooling completely and then being cut. All you need for these bars is a large mixing bowl, a hand mixer, a spatula, and a 9×13 pan. Grease the pan and preheat the oven to 350.

In your bowl, blend together the brown sugar, Karo syrup, butter, vanilla, and peanut butter.

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You don’t have to beat it to death, just get it fairly smooth.20130923-115341.jpg

Now, dump everything else in

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and stir with a spatula.

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I provided measurements, but you can change up which add-ins you want to add in, as well as the amounts. You want to keep the total volume of add-ins about the same, but you could add more chocolate or less nuts, extra coconut and less candy, whatever your little heart desires. Spread into greased 9×13 pan and press! 20130923-115408.jpg

You want to really pack this stuff so the bars will actually stay together. See how tightly packed this is?

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If its too loose while it bakes, it turns out more like granola. Bake 15-20 minutes or until brown around the edges.

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Let cool and cut into bars.

20130927-102753.jpg   Other options for mix-ins: white chocolate chips and chunks, Reese’s pieces, raisins, craisins, macadamia nuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… Basically anything you like in a cookie or granola bar is fair game.

Chewy Monster Bars

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Makes: 16-32 bars (depending how you cut them)

Ingredients:

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup M&M’s
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, peanut butter, Karo syrup, butter, and vanilla.

Step 3: Add all remaining ingredients and stir to evenly distribute everything.

Step 4: Press mixture into prepared pan and bake 15-20 minutes or until the edges are brown and toasty.

Step 5: Cool completely and cut into bars.

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