Sunday, October 3, 2010

Amy's Autumnal Granola

 I was in the bulk section at the store yesterday looking at all of the different types of granola that have become available in our stores today from bars to the cereal, most of them nowhere near as good as home made, and full of sugar.  I have to say most of them looked rather unappetizing, and I was glad I knew how to make my own and that it was a relatively simple process to do so.  I learned how to make granola from my Mom.  I asked her when she started making her own granola, and she told me that back in the late 70s, because she didn't like what was available and how much sugar was added to the commercial stuff.  No, she wasn't a hippy, just someone who cared about the quality of the food she was eating.  Funny how a food considered "hippie" is now something that comes in gourmet varieties, and is mass produced.  But going back to the gourmet aspect, I enjoy making my own granola for the same reasons my Mom did, and because I simply enjoy being able to create a masterpiece of granola varying ingredients every time. 

This time I wanted something that spoke "autumn" when you looked at it or took a bite...which is why I was in the bulk section of the store in the first place yesterday.  The bulk granola section was a pit stop, or a distraction on my way to the goodies I would fill my granola with.  Of course I scooped up a big bag of thick cut oats...but as for add ins I was unsure.  I decided on walnuts and pecans, as well as some sliced almonds, because they all bake up wonderfully crispy and crunchy in a granola, not to mention that they are autumnal.  I grabbed some crasins, a classic fall fruit, golden raisins, because they are a beautiful gold color, and currants, because they remind me of something that would go in an apple crisp.  Dried apples were going to be included as well, because they are the essence of fall fruits!  The last thing I grabbed was not fallish...really, but simply an "Amy" essential ingredient to granola...dried large flake coconut.  I can't ever leave it out of my granola even if it doesn't seem like it will go with it, which it always has in the finished product.  It is like my signature ingredient to granola.  When I got home and was putting this together to bake it I needed to decide on sweeteners.  I ended up with maple syrup and molasses.  Just a small amount of molasses however, because I wanted this granola to have a deep caramel flavor but not taste molassesy.  The maple syrup, well that one is self explanitory, but it also makes the granola extra crunchy.  This granola needed some spice and flavors as well, so I added a good amount of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg with some maple and vanilla extracts.  It all smelled so good together I had to taste it even before baking...but even better was after it emerged from the oven and filled my home to every corner with a heavenly spiced aroma!  A pan of granola cooling on the stove is quite dangerous, especially this walk past and have to "sample" every time.  I suppose it wasn't a good idea for me to make it in the hours leading up to dinner, because I ate so much I wasn't hungry, but who is to say you can't eat granola for dinner once in a while.  Anyways, you should make this being that it is fall, and this stuff is really good...the crunchy toasty nuts and coconut, sweet and tart fruits, and spices running throughout the whole thing, it is pure autumnal goodness!

Amy's Autumnal Granola
Makes about 14 cups of delicious granola

6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups walnuts
2 cups pecans
2 cups almonds
2 cups large flake coconut

3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp dark molasses
3 Tbsp maple sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp maple extract
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups dried apples, chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup craisins
1 cup currants

Line a large baking sheet with non-stick foil, and spray with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 and set rack at the medium position. In a large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and coconut, and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together oil, syrup, molasses, maple sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, sea salt, maple and vanilla extracts until well combined, then pour over oat mixture and toss to coat until completely blended. Pour out onto prepared baking sheet, and spread out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes or so until the granola is evenly browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Stir in dried fruits and enjoy!


Claudia said...

I love the autumn twist on the granola.I also make my own - usually in the winter even if it has "love bead and birkenstock" connotations!

Lindsey @ FRESH AIR + FRESH FOOD said...

Wow! I needed a good granola recipe and this one looks delish. It's going in the file and I'm becoming your newest follower! Thanks!

penny aka jeroxie said...

I miss making granola. have to make some soon.

Stella said...

Preeeettttyy photos, Amy! I hope someone who has never tried homemade granola makes this (I always hope that when I see really healthful posts). It sounds so good, and I do know the wonders of a good homemade granola-it's amazing;-)