Or, at least, how much I love crunchy granola. I have lived under the shadow of crunchy-granola-hood for some time, and I always sensed the term was not meant in a complimentary manner. I figured that this was just because the users never actually tried my granola.
Let me be the first to admit, my admiration for granola had a lot to overcome … namely the ’70′s when, during my formative years, granola was everywhere. The 1970′s granola of my memory was more of a health food penance than a tasty treat. Rock hard morsels of fiber with a few dried up raisins in it. Shudder.
But a year or so ago I read an article in a food magazine where the writer proudly proclaimed she made the stuff herself – and liked it. I figured that I was woman enough to give granola another chance and, after fiddling around with a few recipes, I’ve come up with my own go-to version. I don’t like it too sweet or too rich, but I do like a good amount of dried fruit and some maple syrup. Feel free to fiddle around with this one to create your own. Like honey more than syrup? Go for it. Like chopped pecans or walnuts more than sliced almonds? Chop away. Want to use different spices? You won’t hear a peep out of me.
Maple Almond Granola
- 3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats.
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon 5 spice powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I use reduced fat unsweetened shredded coconut)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff only please)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup dried cherries
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (F) with a rack set in the center of your oven.
- Line a half-sheet pan with tin foil. (Tip: If you need to use more than one sheet of foil, there may be a seam down the pan. Place an extra sheet over the seam so that granola doesn’t get in there when you’re stirring it.)
Make The Granola
- Put the oats, almonds, brown sugar, spices, salt and coconut in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
- Mix the oil and the syrup together, and add them to the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir to coat the dry ingredients with the oil and syrup.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and spread it out in an even layer.
- Place the pan in the oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes. (Why set a timer? Because if you forget about this stuff it will burn – quickly!)
- After 10 minutes, remove the granola from the oven and stir it.
- Smooth it into an even layer and return it to the oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes again.
- After the timer sounds again, take the granola out of the oven and stir it again.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees (F).
- Smooth the granola into an even layer bake it for 15 mintues. Make sure to set a timer.
- After 15 minutes, stir the granola again. It should be golden brown. If it isn’t, turn the oven off and return the pan to oven, checking it after 5 or 10 minutes. (Tip: Be careful! This stuff burns easily – watch it closely during the last sessions of baking!)
- Remove the granola from the oven and stir it again before setting it aside to cool in the pan. After it has cooled for 5 or 10 minutes, add the dried cranberries and cherries and stir them in.
- Let the granola cool completely before storing it in an airtight container or resealable bag.
I highly recommend making an extra batch or two and storing it in the freezer. It keeps well and, now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s much nicer to pull some homemade granola out of the freezer than have the oven going for 40 minutes.