Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nutty Granola

It's no secret that I'm crazy about granola. Every single weekday morning I have the exact same thing for breakfast...two hard boiled eggs and Greek yogurt mixed with granola. The variation comes from the flavor of the yogurt or the granola, but it's generally the same and I rotate through different combinations. On the weekends, when I have more time, I like to make some sort of an omelet but I still eat the yogurt with granola at some point during the day.

Ever since the new year I have really gotten into making my own granola. Back in February I posted about fruit, yogurt, and granola parfaits and in it I included a great granola recipe. Since then I have tried to come up with a few different variations but that recipe is still the one I make most frequently. Usually my new flavor combinations come from pre-existing granolas that I see on grocery store aisles. Often times I will buy one box to sample and see if I like the flavor; if I do I then try to recreate it at home. One of the combinations that I have come to love most is the maple/almond combo and honey/peanut. I find that both have a nice flavor that goes well with any variety of yogurt I choose, be it fruit flavored, coffee, plain, etc.

Even though I came up with a few good flavor combos, I was still having problems with the texture. Part of the reason I love granola so much is because of the great crunch it has. I've said it before and I'll say it again...I'm a texture snob, so obviously eating something that stays crunchy even when mixed with liquidy yogurt really appeals to me. That being said you can only imagine my frustration when my homemade granola was failing to achieve the same great crunch of the store-bought variety.

Well I am happy to report that I have finally solved the puzzle and made super crunchy, flavorful granola. The key to my success was to use the biggest sheet pan possible (I think it was 17" x 13" but that's just my rough measurements with a ruler) so that I could spread out the granola in a thin layer. That way it was able to properly dry out in the oven and become nice and crispy.

The recipe posted below can be used as a base and have different substitutions added to it in order to make it how you want it. I recently bought a box of hazelnut and chocolate granola and I liked how it tasted, so I may try making that next. Another popular combo is mocha/almond or mocha/chocolate, but I have yet to try it. One time I made a sort of dessert-type granola with honey roasted peanuts, dried bananas, and mini chocolate chips. Really the possibilities are endless so I suggest getting creative and seeing what you come up with.

Nutty Granola
  • 4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, hazelnut...)
  • 1/2 cup chopped or sliced nuts (any variety)
  • 1/4 cup honey (increase to 1/2 cup if making honey flavored)
  • 1/4 cup flavored syrup (maple, fruit syrup, agave nectar....)
  1. In a large bowl combine the oats, salt, ground flax seed, cinnamon (if using), and the chopped nuts. Note: if adding any "dry" flavors, such as espresso powder, nutmeg, etc do so at this step.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the applesauce, nut butter, honey, and syrup. Mix well so that it becomes a homogenous liquid.
  3. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until the oats are evenly coated.
  4. Spread the oats onto a large (very large) baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes, or until the oats become golden and crispy. Stir the oats every 10-15 minutes so that they do not become burned.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet. Once cool store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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