I have been hesitant to try making these again. Sometime last year I tried a recipe that didn't go over well with the kids. They didn't stick together well enough and were not enough like the store bought bars that they love. Store bought granola bars are such a treat for me because they're such an easy snack to send to school or take on the road for errands. The kids are always excited about them because, let's face it, they're kind of like having a cookie for a snack! Well, I decided to give it another try because I found my favorite brand of natural chocolate chips in mini-size! I found them at World Market along with Glee Gum and several European versions of candy which is made with natural vanilla and no artificial colors. That is because artificial colors and flavors are regulated by the European governments. So, Mars and Nestle make a natural version of all their candies for Europe and Canada and continue to sell Americans the cheaper versions made with petroleum in them.
Back to the granola bars. I made a couple of tweaks this time. The mini chocolate chips are key. Also, I switched to using the quick cooking oats instead of whole rolled oats. If you want to use whole rolled oats, you can pulse them in your food processor a few times until they are broken down and smaller. I found that this helps the bars stick together and be more compact, which makes them more like the store-bought version and less messy for on-the-go eating. My main motivation in making these is to save money. My kids will blow through a $2.50 box of 6 bars in two days. Now I can make them for a fraction of the cost.
Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
4 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used gluten free flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter (softened) or coconut oil (melted, but not hot)
1 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups mini chocolate chips (or raisins/nuts if you prefer)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or coconut oil, honey and brown sugar.
Stir in the 2 cups assorted mini chocolate chips (or raisins/nuts if using).
Mix well (using hands if necessary) until a sticky ball forms.
Press evenly into prepared pan. Pack it down well so the bars will be flat on top.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the entire top is golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Wrap individually and enjoy!