Monster Granola Bars

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Let’s be real: they don’t call them “Monster Cookies” because they’ve got a monstrous amount of delicious ingredients; that’s just what they want you to think. They’re really called Monster Cookies because you turn into a monster upon eating the sinfully addicting devils. You need more and more, and you’ll do anything to get them, like the Cookie Monster but with a more severe problem.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, Monster Cookies can be a monster problem if you’re watching your waistline. Cookies, delectable as they may be, are not the most satisfying treat, so you often wind up eating 20 in one sitting. Or maybe that’s just me again.

What I need is the salty-sweet goodness of Monster Cookies in a heartier snack that can satisfy my black hole of a stomach with just one or two. What I need are these Monster Granola Bars.

With crunchy pretzel bits, salty peanut butter, and chocolaty M&Ms, these ain’t your average granola bars. In fact, I must warn you that once you try one of these chewy delights, you’ll never want sub-par store-bought again. Sorry, Quaker, but I’m running you out of town with my salt-sweet monsters.DSC_4097

What I really love about these bars is that you get all the components of Monster Cookies but in a much more filling and satisfying snack. So, you only need one bar to fill you up. However, that is not to say you won’t wind up eating five of them in one sitting simply because they’re that delicious.

And don’t worry; you might think homemade granola bars would be a bothersome task, but they’re actually one of the easiest treats to make. Just mix everything together, give it a quick bake, and let it cool. The hardest part is not digging in when they’re right out of the oven and hot enough to scold your tongue, simply because they smell too overwhelmingly delicious to ignore.

Back away from the piping hot granola bars; I promise you can make it through the 20 or so minutes it takes for them to cool. And your tongue will thank you for it.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Marshmallows are the secret ingredient here that makes these nice and chewy.
  2.  Sub the almonds for whatever nuts you have on hand.
  3. These are great for kids; they love granola bars!
  4. Use the base of this recipe to build upon and add whatever mix-ins you like. For a simple variation, leave out the M&M’s and pretzels, and sub in mini peanut butter cups.
  5. Add a little more brown sugar if you’d like these sweeter.
  6. These are way better for you than store-bought granola bars since they don’t have all the preservatives.DSC_4075

Monster Granola Bars
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pretzels
  • 1 cup whole raw almonds
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 cups marshmallows
  • 1 cup M&Ms, plus more for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking sheet with nonstick spray then line with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over the sides.
  2. In a food processor, pulse nuts until they start to break up. Add pretzels and pulse a few times more until everything is broken into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almonds, pretzels, egg whites, oats, peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey until well combined and everything is evenly distributed. Set aside.
  4. In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring continuously, until completely melted. Immediately pour into the oat mixture and stir until well-combined. Gently fold in the M&Ms so they don’t melt.
  5. Transfer to prepared pan. Use waxed paper to press down into a firmly-packed even layer. Press about ¼ cup more M&Ms into the bars. Bake 12 minutes or until fragrant and just turning gold around the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift out the granola and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Slice into bars. Store in an air-tight container.

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