Friday, February 18, 2011

Vanilla Almond Granola

             Granola. Isn't it just beautiful? Don't you almost want to grab that spoon and take a great big, overflowing bite? There's something about granola that makes me happy...perhaps it's that it looks and tastes so dreamy topped with scoops of fresh fruit...or maybe that it's nutty and fiber-y and leaves me feeling like I'm doing my body good...or, possibly, that, when combined with milk, it softens just so and leaves the milk thick with its cinnamon-sugary coating. I'm certain all of the above make it one of the nicest treats in my book. Today's granola was inspired by half a container of vanilla yogurt, a spotted banana, and 4 lingering strawberries in my fridge that were desperate for a crunchy companion. Granola fit the bill. Breakfast was a treat (see above). As was snack #1 (granola on the go). And snack #2 (granola + milk). This granola is simple and absolutely satisfying at any time of day. I think my favorite part is the inclusion of the whole almonds that give each bite a more hearty chew. There are also endless possibilities for additions/adaptations: add a cup or two of dried fruit after baking; substitute walnuts for some of the almonds; try coconut oil instead of vegetable oil for a stronger coconut kick; and for those who prefer chocolate at every meal (surely everyone, right?), toss in some chocolate chips after the granola is entirely cooled. Have some fun. Enjoy. And share some!
             Oh, by the way, it's definitely worth mentioning the one hang up I have with making granola: It's finicky in the oven. This means that at one minute it's entirely un-toasted, and the very next, burnt to a crisp and smelling up your kitchen. The nerve! Raw nuts are simply too expensive to buy and burn. So, do take note: The time (and stirring) matters with this recipe. When you take them out at the end the oats will still seem a bit soft, but that's okay...once cooled, they will harden and all will be well in the world. Just a little forewarning. That said, mindful of the time, you're bound for success. Now, enjoy. :)

borrowed from Joy the Baker
yields 8 cups

4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups dried fruit, etc., optional
1. Place racks in the upper third and middle of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325F. 
2. Heat butter, oil, honey, and brown sugar in medium saucepan on medium heat, whisking until melted, combined, and bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. 
3. In a large bowl stir oats, slivered and whole almonds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt until mixed. Pour warm butter mixture over oats mixture and mix together with wooden spoon (or clean hands) until all the dry ingredients are well coated. 
3. Spread mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes*, stirring and alternating pans every 7 minutes. Remove, let cool, add in any dried fruit you've selected, and store in air tight container for up to two weeks (or freeze for a month!). 

*Every oven is different, so just keep an eye on it around the 20 minute mark. The granola should be lightly browned. (And, if you want the end result to be a little chunky I've found that not stirring when you remove the pans at the end lets the granola set in big pieces that you can later break up as you wish.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment