Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

  2. Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. (For best texture and easiest cutting, be sure the fruits and nuts are cut/chopped into small, fairly uniform pieces.) If using peanut butter, add it to the dry mixture and stir until combined.

     

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, syrup or honey, and water.

  4. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

  5. Spread in the prepared pan, shaking the pan to evenly cover the bottom and patting down gently.

  6. Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're golden brown around the edges.

  7. Remove them from the oven, loosen the edges, and cool for 5 minutes.

  8. Use a knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars while they're still warm in the pan. Carefully remove warm bars from the pan, and cool on a rack. Alternatively, remove from the pan before cutting into bars; it helps to cut in half first, then loosen the bottom of each half with a turner/spatula before turning out onto a sheet of parchment to cut into bars.

  9. Wrap bars individually to store; or place in a single layer on a plate, and cover with plastic; or store in layers with parchment in between. In humid weather, it's best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Did you know that supermarket ("fake") maple syrup isn't nearly as sweet as 100% ("real") maple syrup? If you want to use maple-flavored cane syrup in this recipe, you may want to add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar along with the remaining dry ingredients.
  • Sticky Bun Sugar gives these bars a lovely crisp edge with a chewy center. If you don't want to use Sticky Bun Sugar, you can make bars that come close to that texture by substituting 3/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons light corn syrup + 2 tablespoons melted butter for the Sticky Bun Sugar. And yes, you'll still add the additional butter as called for in the recipe.
  • What kinds of add-ins are good in these bars? We like 1/2 cup each dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Or use your favorite flavor Jammy Bits in place of the dried fruit. Walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries or apples, or even chocolate chips would all be delicious as well.