I think I've told you all that I'm kind of in love with Nigella Lawson. Right? Right?
I've been wanting to find a good recipe for granola bars for some time. And although my friends were shocked that I didn't go my usual Ina route - they clearly don't understand the absolute love affair I have with sweetened condensed milk. I can't really explain why I love sweetened condensed milk, but I always remember being slightly disappointed that my mom was really good at scraping every last bit of milk out of the can when I was a kid. And I would always risk cutting off my finger to get some of its gooey goodness off of the lid.
I lived life on the edge - what can I say?
Now that I've told you all of that childhood nuttiness, you maybe understand why my inaugural attempt at homemade granola bars was courtesy of Nigella's easy-peasy recipe that contained a bunch of pantry ingredients and featured a binder of ... you guessed it - sweetened condensed milk.
Nigella's Breakfast Bars
from Nigella Lawson's "Nigella Express"
1 14-fl-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dried cranberries (**I used 1/2 c. raisins and 1/2 c. dried cherries)
1 cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame - I just had sesame on hand)
1 cup natural unsalted peanuts (I used mixed nuts ... again, it was what I had on hand.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and oil a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Because I knew this was going to be pretty messy, I actually lined mine with parchment paper so I could easily lift out and cut the bars when they were finished. Warm the condensed milk in a large pan. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute. Spread the mixture into the pan and press down with a spatula to make the surface even.
Bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down, to make 16 chunky bars. Let cool completely. Makes 16 bars. I wrapped mine up individually in waxed paper to share with some of my co-workers. The rest, I stored in an airtight container. And they didn't last long ... :-)