Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall Granola

I was asked yesterday why I make so much granola. My response? "We like it, don't we?" The answer is obviously yes. The stuff flies outta the jar! But people enjoying granola isn't the only reason I make it. I also make it because it is super simple and really fun to make. There's almost no way to screw up. All you need are oats, and any of your favorite seeds, nuts, fruits, seasonings, sweeteners... in any combination, really.

I'm always working on my granola recipes. They're in no way scientific, but I've experimented with many different combinations, and will continue to. I'm sure I'll never settle on just ONE granola recipe.

I always thought I liked my granola chewy. I turned my nose up at crunchy granola, or loose granola, that didn't clump together. But this week's granola recipe pleasantly surprised me. Crunchy? Yes. Sort of loose? Also yes. I didn't have these on hand, but I think cut-up dried apples would have gone more nicely than the dried tart cherries and cranberries I put into this batch. Or some crystallized ginger. Next time. There will definitely be a next time. For now, I am just going to savor my new batch, either right out of the palm of my hand, or sprinkled on plain yogurt.

This Week's Granola

Approximately 3-4 c oats
3/4 c pumpkin seeds
3/4 c sunflower seeds
1/3 c sesame seeds
3/4 c slivered almonds
3/4 c dried flaked coconut (unsweetened is preferred but not necessary)
1/4 c oil
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c honey
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 c chopped dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toast the oats, seeds, almonds, and coconut on a sheet pan, dry, in the preheating oven, for about 6-8 min, or until the coconut begins to brown or become fragrant. Allow to cool just a bit, and then pour into a big bowl. Mix in oil, sugar, honey, and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are adequately integrated and coated well. On parchment paper, in one layer, spread the granola mixture. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Check it at 15 minutes. If it's nicely browned, it's done. If not, you can let it go a bit longer. Once out of the oven, allow to cool about 10-20 minutes on the pan. Add the dried fruit right on top of the granola and, using a spoon or a bench scraper, incorporate the fruit into the cooling granola. This way, the fruit doesn't bake and become too chewy. Allow to further cool before storing it in a jar or eating.

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