Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recipe: White House Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Dense, sweet, and packed with grains and seeds
Assistant Pastry Chef Margi Fineran's no-bake recipe is easy and delicious...
Washington, DC - The White House Peanut Butter Granola Bars are a perfect healthier treat for a picnic dessert, an afternoon snack, or even as a breakfast side dish.  Created by Assistant Pastry Chef Margi Fineran, the recipe packs plenty of taste into complex, sweet bites that are soft but crunchy thanks to the use of puffed grains, old fashioned oats, chocolate chips, coconut, raisins, and an array of seeds including pumpkin, flax, and sunflower.  

The recipe is super easy:  It's no-bake, with the ingredients held together by the peanut butter and maple syrup and honey.  In fact the finished bars are so good that the most difficult thing about the project is not eating too many in one sitting.  And if you're cooking with kids, they'll love stirring the many ingredients together.  

Fineran in the Kitchen Garden
Not a peanut butter fan?  Or dealing with allergies?  Fineran says using almond butter is fine.  Obama Foodorama also tested the recipe with cashew butter, and it was terrific.  The ingredients are mixed by hand (or spoon) in a big bowl, then spread on a cookie sheet or in a shallow baking pan, and put in the refrigerator or freezer to chill.  To make things even easier, Fineran offers a tip on working with the dense peanut butter:

"This is a no-bake granola bar, but I have found that it is easy to blend it together if the oatmeal has been toasted and it’s still a little warm," Fineran said.

The warmed oats "melt" the peanut butter.  Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, then immediately add to the rest of the ingredients.  The pumpkin and sunflower seeds and the coconut are also toasted; these can be prepped the same way as the oatmeal.  Keep an eye on the toasting process to avoid scorching.

The recipe calls for a 12 x 18 sheet pan, but a 9 x 14 x 2 pan can be used for a thicker bar. Rub the bottom with a light coating of canola oil or use unflavored cooking spray before putting in the mixture.  After chilling (two-three hours), cut the bars into chunks.   The number of servings depends on portion size.  

The finished recipe, ready to be cut into bars
White House Peanut Butter Granola Bars

*2 Cups Puffed Rice

*2 1/2 Cups Puffed Millet (Puffed Barley can be swapped)

*4 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

*1 Cup Raisins

*3/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds, toasted

*3/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds, toasted

*1/2 Cup Flax Seeds

*3/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut, toasted

*1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips

*3/4 Cup Honey

*3/4 Cup Maple Syrup

*3 Cups (24 oz) Natural Peanut Butter

1.  Put all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well to coat everything in peanut butter. 

2.  Prepare a sheet pan 12x18in by lightly brushing it with canola oil. Spread the well-mixed ingredients into the prepared pan and smooth evenly with a spatula.  

3.  It’s a stiff mixture, to really push it together, cover with parchment or wax paper and roll it into place with a rolling pin (your hands will work fine, too). 

4.  Chill for three hours or freeze for two hours before cutting into squares or rectangles.   If freezing, allow to thaw for half an hour before cutting.

*Serving size depends on portion size.


Fineran created this recipe for ChopChop magazine's The Big Picnic, a nationwide celebration of healthy family cooking that took place on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. The magazine is devoted to combating obesity by encouraging kids and their families to cook at home.  White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses also provided recipes.

*Photos and food styling by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama