September 15, 2008 11:19 AM   Subscribe

How do I make awesome cereal bars?

I have some idea of what I want to go into the recipe, but I'm weirdly concerned with the binder -- I've gotten it into my head that corn syrup is the best/ most frequently used binder, and I'd really prefer not to use it. What's a good alternative?

I'd also be happy to see tried and true recipes that are particularly healthful.
posted by boo_radley to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Peanut butter and/or honey can be good, depending on what you're going for. Is this more of a rice krispy treat, or a granola bar?

I remember making some good granola bars with corn syrup and honey -- I'm sure you could use all honey if you preferred to not use corn syrup.
posted by rossination at 11:26 AM on September 15, 2008

Alton Brown made tasty cereal bars on one of my fave episodes of Good Eats.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 11:32 AM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: rossination: I'm looking for a car-breakfast type thing, so a granola bar.
posted by boo_radley at 11:38 AM on September 15, 2008

It's typically used for brewing, but you could use malt extract syrup.
posted by cog_nate at 11:41 AM on September 15, 2008

Honey, a bit of neutral vegetable oil (choose something healthy if you like), and some molasses have served me well.
posted by tomierna at 12:32 PM on September 15, 2008

What have you got against corn syrup? Basic corn syrup (eg. Karo) isn't enhanced in any way -- it's most certainly not "high fructose" corn syrup. If you're trying to avoid GM corn, your local healthy food store will probably have some certified non-GM corn syrup (I think I saw some in the organic food section in the local small-chain grocer). Whole Foods or Trader Joes would probably have it, too. There's a reason why it's in most cereal bar recipes -- it works.

Otherwise, vegetable oil and brown sugar; or molasses (although that would add a lot of flavor); or honey. I would think that golden syrup or treacle would probably work, too.
posted by jlkr at 12:47 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I use honey, butter and peanut butter all melted together, then pour over the goodies and set.
posted by goo at 12:59 PM on September 15, 2008

And for recipes, I just tend to use whatever dried fruit and nuts I have on hand, rice bubbles, crushed Weetbix and oats.
posted by goo at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2008

maple syrup instead of the corn.
posted by watercarrier at 2:34 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

For the crust and crumb:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

For the raspberry filling:

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
posted by Capri at 3:47 PM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

I was going to suggest these raspberry breakfast bars that were posted on Smitten Kitchen a couple of weeks ago, but I see that Capri beat me to it. Check the post for pictures, though - these things are very good.
posted by mewithoutyou at 4:00 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can try using a binder like in this macaroon recipe.

Um, here's a patent that might interest you. And another one.

Caramelizing some sugar would work. Also, caramelized sweetened condensed milk, aka cajeta or dulce de leche.

Finally--marshmallows. Rice Krispy treats, man.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:04 PM on September 15, 2008

Best answer: I've used brown rice syrup and peanut butter before.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:10 PM on September 15, 2008

Honey works well. I make these.
posted by suchatreat at 8:28 AM on September 16, 2008

They need to do way instain corn flakes. These marshmallows cant fright back?
posted by twiggy at 1:39 PM on September 18, 2008

Response by poster: Here you go:
  • 2 C rice crispies
  • 2 C cheerios
  • 1/2 C brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 C peanut butter
  • 1/4 C chopped pecans
  • 1 C dried fruit
microwave the peanut butter and rice syrup together for 20-30 sec until warm -- eases in blending. I use a stand mixer.

Add all cereal to bowl, mix in peanut butter and rice syrup. scrape down sides and bottom periodically.

after 2-3 minutes of blending, add in nuts and fruit. blend for another minute.

spread mixture into a greased baking dish. using a 2nd baking dish, press down on top of the mixture to ensure even bars and help in texture (stick-together-ness). weight 2nd dish down with cans, chill over nights.
posted by boo_radley at 3:08 PM on December 9, 2008

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