As I type this post, I am sitting at my dining room table and gazing out the window. Now that hurricane Joaquin is gone and the rain has stayed away from South Carolina for a week, we have dried out a bit and the leaves are starting to turn. I could sit here and stare at the trees all day, provided there were plenty of snacks within arms reach. There is quite a nip in the air (a bit odd for this time of year in the South), but this Minnesota gal is thrilled. My friends, it actually feels like fall here right now and I am positively giddy.
While some people crave cozy casseroles, hearty soups, and pumpkin spice lattes at this time of year, I have been craving granola.
Is that weird?
I’m not sure why, but every time I have seen it in the store, I commence to drooling. Its embarrassing really. I see those toasted oats and nuts studded with colorful dried fruits and it sets my stomach to growling. I refuse to buy it because I can make it so easily, but I haven’t had time. This past weekend I was sure to MAKE time, and after a lot of experimentation, I made exactly the kind of granola I have been yearning for.This version is crispy, but not so crunchy that it will shake loose a filling. Its spiced, but just enough to add a fantastic warmth to the food, not enough to overwhelm. And the maple? Gaaaah. Its lovely. When you bake this it will smell like your house has been invaded by a stack of syrup drowned pancakes, but the end result is much more subtle.
If you have never made granola at home before, I highly recommend giving it a try. It is ridiculously easy and you can customize it to your own tastes. In addition, it is just fun to share with people. Throw it in a jar with a ribbon around the top and VOILA! Instant gift. It would be a fantastic thing to bring to the host or hostess of a party this holiday season instead of the usual bottle of wine. Personally, I would rather have granola under the tree than a reindeer sweater so consider sending some to long lost relatives. It travels well and smells so good, it will make the security dogs at the post office go berserk! 🙂 Because nothing says ‘I love you’ like crunchy, nutty, cinnamon-y food. Right? I thought so.
Several weeks ago we made homemade almond milk here at our house. We had quite a bit of ground almonds leftover after draining off the ‘milk’ so we dried them out in the oven and stored them in the freezer until we could decided what to do with them. They were PERFECT in this granola, so keep that in mind if you make your own almond milk!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, add:
2 c rolled oats
1 c ground almonds or almond flour
1 c sliced almonds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c brown sugar
Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended.
In a glass measuring cup, combine:
1/4 c coconut, canola, or grapeseed oil
1/3 c pure (real) maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple extract
Mix and pour over oat mixture. Combine well, making sure the moisture is evenly distributed. This will take a bit. Dump onto a dry, unlined sheet pan and spread out into an even layer. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes, stir well, toast for another 15 minutes, stir, and toast final 15 minutes. The granola should be dry and crunchy and slightly browned. Remove and let it cool on the pan. It will continue to crisp a bit as it cools. Once cool, feel free to add the dried fruits of your choice. Cranberries are especially fantastic with this. Store in an airtight container.