Similar to Nature Valley crunchy granola bars, this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen uses less sugar and syrup to “glue” the oats together by processing some of the oats into flour. Mixing the oat flour with the syrup and sugar mixture “glues” the remaining ingredients together without the extra syrup.
To make these peanut butter flavored (which I did), whisk 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in with the sugar syrup mixture. The bars pictured above also contain dried cranberries which I substituted for pepitas. I also substituted melted coconut oil for the olive oil which I think gives them a great flavor.
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 oz.)
3/4 teaspoon flake sea salt
1/3 EVOO (but I suggest coconut oil)
2 cups (6 oz.) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened flaked coconut
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300. Make foil sling for 13 x 9 baking pan. Spray with veg. oil and place in pan.
Whisk maple syrup, sugar and salt together in large bowl. Whisk in oil.
Process 1/2 cup oats in food processor until finely ground, 30 to 40 seconds. Transfer the bowl with maple syrup mixture and stir in remaining oats, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, and coconut, until all the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated.
Transfer mixture to pan and spread into thin, even layer. Using spatula sprayed with veg. spray, firmly compress until very compact. Bake until deeply golden, about 45 min., rotating pan halfway through baking.
Let cool on wire rack in pan for 15 min., then cut, still in pan, into 16 bars. Let cool for about 1 hour. Using sling, remove bars and transfer to cutting board. Carefully recut bars. Can be stored at room temp. in airtight container for up to 1 week.