If you like crunchy granola and chewy, gooey toffee-like caramel with chocolate, give these bars a try. They're not a one bowl thing, but very tasty. The crisp base is very similar to those crunchy Nature Valley granola bars in the green wrapper, though not so hard. Then comes a layer of toffee (caramelized sweetened condensed milk), and finally a thin accent of chocolate. I love how it all comes together. This recipe is adapted from an Eagle Brand recipe. The girls were thrilled to get one of these as a lunchbox treat all week. These are also easily gluten free with a quick substitution of the spelt flour to your favorite GF flour or just powder some of the certified GF oats.
Toffee Granola Bars
makes 36 bars
1 cup oats (get the certified kind for gluten free)
½ cup packed light brown muscovado sugar
½ cup whole spelt flour (or certified gluten free oat flour or your favorite gluten free flour)
½ cup finely chopped walnuts (crispy walnuts work great here)
½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided
¼ tsp baking soda
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (6oz) mini chocolate chips (they melt faster)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 13x9 inch pan with parchment paper. Melt 6 tbsp of the butter. Combine the oats, sugar, flour, nuts, melted butter and baking soda. Press firmly into bottom of lined pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. (You're going to bake it again, so don't over brown.)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining 2 tbsp butter and condensed milk. Cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly, about 7-12 minutes. (Once it starts to thicken, it will do so quickly. Watch it carefully and don't let it get too thick to spread.) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over baked crust. Bake 10-15 minutes longer until golden brown.
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chips evenly over the top. Let stand a minute. Spread melted chips with an offset spatula. Cool and cut into bars. Store bars tightly covered at room temperature.
Any of the crust that decides to fall off makes some darn fine granola!