June 23, 2013

S'mores Granola Bars

Soft and chewy granola bars loaded with mini teddy grahams, marshmallows, and mini chocolate chips. These bars are a quick and easy no-bake treat for hot summer days!

S'mores Granola Bars // The Taste Tester

Did you know National S'mores day is coming up soon? That's right, on August 10th. I believe it always falls on the first Sunday in August, but I could be wrong about that. S'mores are one of my favorite summertime treats, and I sort of have this thing for homemade granola bars, so that is what inspired the creation of these bars.

You should know that investing in a $10 candy thermometer from Bed Bath and Beyond was the best decision I've ever made, at least in regards to making homemade granola bars. The first time I tried making these s'mores granola bars I accidentally over-cooked the syrup-y mixture. In previous granola bar recipes on this blog (see here and here) I had recommended boiling the mixture for a full 2 minutes, and that worked really well on an electric stove in Rexburg, Idaho. But at a different altitude and on a more powerful stove, not so much. The mixture heated up too much and left us with a really hard to chew granola bar. I'm lucky I kept any of my teeth after eating one of these from the first batch I made. My jaw still hurts a little too.

But with a candy thermometer I knew exactly when to take it off the stove, and it made perfect granola bars. The sticky mixture was firm enough to hold the bars together but soft enough to chew. If you plan on making any of the granola bars on my website I highly recommend investing in a candy thermometer. You can use it for all sorts of things, even deep frying. It's worth the money. Invest.

S'mores Granola Bars

2 cups plain granola
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup mini teddy grahams, or broken graham cracker pieces
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the plain granola, rice cereal, and mini teddy grahams in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside. Measure out the mini marshmallows and set aside. Do the same with the mini chocolate chips. Line a 9x9inch square cake pan with a parchment paper sling. Set prepared baking sheet near the stove.

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of a small saucepan. Put the butter cubes, brown sugar, and honey in saucepan. Melt mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil stop stirring it. Watch the candy thermometer and pull the pan off the heat as soon as it reaches the soft ball stage (240˚F at sea level--- see my recipe notes to learn how to calibrate your candy thermometer).

Immediately stir the vanilla into the boiling mixture and pour over the cereal in the mixing bowl. Stir until coated. Gently stir in the marshmallows. They may start melting a little bit but they won't melt all the way if you don't over-mix.

Press into the prepared cake pan. If you don't have a 9x9 inch cake pan you can also use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (just eyeball a 9x9x1" square). Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over warm bars. Let cool for 1-2 hours before lifting the sling out of the pan and cutting the bars to serve. Store in an airtight container for no more than one week.

Recipe Yield: 16 granola bars
Recipe Source: an ©Amanda Jenks original
You can read my copyright policy here.

My Recipe Notes: 
You can either use store-bought or homemade plain granola. I use Sunbelt Simple Granola from the cereal aisle in my local grocery store.

I broke about half of my teddy grahams in half, but left some whole.

I spray the 1/3 cup measure with non-stick spray before measuring the honey. It helps the honey slide right out of the measuring cup.

What is a parchment paper sling? A parchment paper sling is a piece of parchment paper with a width that is cut to fit the exact length of your pan. So in this recipe you'd cut a 9" piece of parchment paper from the roll (so the parchment paper piece would be 9"x however many inches in length your roll of parchment paper is). When you place it in the pan it overhangs on only two of the pans sides, and you do want overhang! It'll make it easier to lift the bars out of the pan, which makes for easier cutting.

You should calibrate your candy thermometer at least once a year. Here is a link that explains how to calibrate a candy thermometer in understandable terms. My thermometer read 206˚F in boiling water. That is six degrees lower than the boiling point of water at sea level, so when I was making these granola bars I subtracted six degrees from 240˚F (the soft ball stage of candy at sea level), meaning my mixture reached the soft ball stage at 234˚F.

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