Sam discovered granola bars when she was in high school. By the time she was in college and living away from home, she used to bring a stash of granola bars for a weeks’ supply. Granola is muesli — a loose mixture of oats, nuts, honey and, sometimes, fruits. Geographic location and language account for the difference in name more than anything else.
Before it was granola, it was granula — and it wasn’t a generic name for a food but a trademark, the “inventor” being a Dr. Jackson at the Jackson Sanitarium in Ohio. The year was 1894. When cereal maker Kellogg’s came up with something similar, it was called granola to avoid lawsuit for infringing on a trademark.
Around six years after Dr. Jackson invented his granula, a Swiss doctor, Maximilian Bircher-Benner, owner of a sanatorium in Zürich, introduced muesli to his patients.
Granola bars were invented by Stanley Mason, the man whose inventions include, according to his obituary “the disposable diaper, the squeezable ketchup bottle, the granola bar, microwave cookware, Mentadent foaming toothpaste, self-heating shaving cream, the “Wow” Playtex plastic underwire bra, and a cluttered attic of others.”
Yesterday, we baked granola bars. But because I cut them into squares, I call them granola squares. And because it was Sam who chose what should go into them, not only did our granola squares contain the traditional oats, nuts and honey, they also had bits of sugar-coated chocolate.
Recipe: Granola squares (or bars)
- 2 c. of rolled oats
- 1 and 1/2 c. of mixed nuts (I used peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts and Chinese pop nuts)
- 1/4 c. of sugar-coated chocolate candies
- 1/4 c. of granulated sugar
- 2 tbsps. of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c. of sugar syrup (see notes after the recipe)
- 2 tbsps. of honey
- 4 tbsps. of melted butter (plus a bit more for the pan)
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Line a 11″x7″ baking pan with non-stick paper. Brush with melted butter any part of the pan not covered by the paper.
- In a bowl, toss together the oats, nuts, sugar, flour and candies.
- Mix together the syrup, honey and melted butter. Add the salt and stir to dissolve.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until the texture is uniform.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place a piece of cling wrap on top then press down to make the mixture compact. Discard the cling film.
- Bake at 350F for 35 minutes (five minutes longer for darker granola squares).
- When the tray comes out of the oven, place on a rack to cool completely.
- Cut into squares or bars. Keep in an air-tight container at room temperature. No idea yet how long they will last.
To make the syrup, boil two parts sugar with one part water until thick and syrupy. You can add a cinnamon stick or some other spices and just remove them before using the syrup.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 35 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): about 24 two-inch squares