Molasses is a familiar taste for me. Since I don’t particularly care for maple syrup, I enjoy molasses drizzled over oatmeal or pancakes. It was a cupboard constant for me growing up, although I rarely saw my parents cook with it. I didn’t start using it on my own until a few years ago when I started living on my own.
We always had Grandma’s brand molasses in the cupboard. I like opening the cupboard and seeing that tall, cylindrical jar with the yellow lid and the smiling granny on it. It is oddly calming.
Her oat bars, called flapjacks, reminded me of a similar thing I used to make in Home Economics class in eighth grade. That version involved Caro syrup and peanut butter melted together and poured over oats, nuts and raisins. I’ll have to try that again, but these bars with ginger and cranberry are much more adult.
Ginger, Cranberry and Coconut Oatmeal Bars, makes about 16 bars
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp. vegetable oil
3 heaping Tbs. molasses
3 heaping Tbs. honey
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened (your preference)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1. In pan, melt together the butter, oil, molasses and honey on the stove over medium heat. Cook until it starts to bubble violently. Shut off heat and add ginger, cranberries, and nuts if using. Stir to incorporate and then add the oats and the coconut. Stir so that all of the ingredients are slicked and coated in the molasses and honey mixture.
2. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a pan (or line with parchment), either a 9×9 or a 13×9, and spread the oat mixture, pressing it flat into the corners. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. (I used a 9×9 pan and went the full 30 minutes. For a 13×9, I’d start checking about the 15 minute mark.
3. Remove pan from oven and allow the bars to cool completely. I used a silicone pan, which left these bars very gooey. I didn’t cut them until the next day and they still fell apart. Since they’re homemade without any stabilizers, these bars aren’t going to hold up like store-bought granola bars. They were still delicious, but next time I may try using a metal pan. In that case I’ll likely both grease the pan and use a sheet of parchment on the bottom because the molasses and the honey will stick to everything! I was still scraping oats off the bottom of my silicone pan, not that I minded.
4. Store the bars wrapped individually in parchment (they stick together like crazy) in a container. I just left mine on the counter but you can also put them in the refrigerator to firm them up a bit more, if you like. These will keep 3 to 4 days out of the fridge.