Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

With my well documented love of chai tea and warm spices, it should come as no surprise that I spice my granola accordingly. I mean really, what’s not to love about cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom? Except perhaps the addition of ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper? We’re talking seriously good stuff!

I really love granola for its versatility. It’s great in a bowl for breakfast with a splash of milk. My boys snack on it by the handful. It’s also a good, quick protein recharge on a hike or snowshoe expedition. And it’s absolutely lovely sprinkled over yogurt or ice cream.  Granola is a veritable Jack-of-All-Trades, if you will: delicious, healthy, adaptable.

Earlier this week I made a batch of plain Greek yogurt. Naturally, I had to make some granola to go with it. It was just the right thing to do.

You want to know the best part? Making granola is one of the most simple and economical things you can do in the kitchen. True story! Anyone can do it, and it is infinitely cheaper and more tasty than the store bought varieties. Once you make your own, you may never buy packaged granola again.

So try it, already! Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, because most of them are spices or pantry staples. You’ll need:

2/3 C. honey (or Agave syrup)

½ C. unsalted butter

¼ C. canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground white pepper

6 C. rolled oats

1 C. dried fruit

½ C. toasted wheat germ

½ C. flax seeds

½ C. hulled sunflower seeds (or trail mix)

¼ C. sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with silicone mats, or spray well with cooking spray.

Pour the honey into a medium saucepan. Add the butter, canola oil, and vanilla.  Warm over low heat until the butter has completely melted. Be sure to whisk it around occasionally while the butter is melting to be sure the the butter and oil blend with the honey.

Turn off the heat and dump in the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper.

Whisk the spices into the warmed honey mixture until fully combined. Set the honey spice mixture aside to slightly cool.

Measure the oats and wheat germ into a large bowl. It’s important to use rolled oats (sometimes called old fashioned oats,) because they have a greater surface area so the granola will hold together better. Quick oats are ground rolled oats, so they are almost powdery in consistency. Powdery oats won’t work in granola.

Pour in the flax seeds. Flax seeds can be either be found  natural food section, or the gluten free and/or baking area of the grocery store. My store puts them on a shelf near the wheat germ in the baking aisle. Flax seeds are packed full of fiber and Omega-3′s.

Add the sunflower seeds. Most packaged sunflower seeds are processed in the same facility or on the same equipment as peanuts and/or tree nuts, which makes them contraband in my house. I was able to find a sunflower seed based trail mix by Enjoy Life that is free of the top 8 common food allergens, and therefore safe for son #2, so that is what I used.

Last but not least, pour in the sesame seeds. Yes, sesame seeds. Trust me on this! You can find them in a jar in the spice aisle. Take the best kitchen tools around–your hands–and toss the dry ingredients together.

Pour the (now) slightly cooled honey spice mixture over the oat mixture.

Stir the honey spice mixture into the oat mixture with a rubber scraper (a.k.a. spatula.)

Keep stirring, and occasionally press the back of the spatula against the oats to make sure that the wet stuff fully wraps around the dry stuff. You want to be sure that everything is fully moistened, with no dry spots.

Divide the mixture between the two baking sheets. Smooth it out into a thin layer with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees.

But wait! Don’t walk away! You’ll need to stir every 10 minutes or so to make sure that the granola toasts evenly and doesn’t burn. Just drag the spatula across the baking sheet.

Then push it back in the direction from which it came. Do this in a couple of spots on the baking sheet to toss the granola, before spreading it out into an even layer to continue baking. The granola will need to bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until it is very golden brown.

You house is smelling pretty awesome right about now.

Remove pans from the oven, but do not stir the granola! If you stir the granola now, it will break apart and you will end up with lots of little toasted oats. While that would still be tasty, I like granola to have some chunks in it. Let the granola cool completely on the pans.

Once cool, stir the granola to break it into manageable pieces.

When the granola has been broken apart, toss a half of a cup of dried fruit onto each baking sheet. Use what you like–I used dried cranberries and golden raisins.  Dried cherries and chopped dried apricots are also nice. Give it another good stir.

In my experience, adding dried fruit before baking the granola will yield a lot of burned fruit. That’s why you add it afterward.

Now bask in the crunchy warmth that is homemade granola!

I like to store my granola is quart sized mason jars right on the counter. That way, everyone knows that it is there for the taking. And it adds an earthy prettiness to the kitchen. But you can store it in any airtight container for a week or more on the counter.

I think.

Because chai-spiced granola never lasts that long in our house.

Chai Spiced Granola

http://comfortablydomestic.com

Makes about 3 quarts

 

2/3 C. honey (or Agave syrup)

½ C. unsalted butter

¼ C. canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground white pepper

6 C. rolled oats

1 C. dried fruit (mix it up: raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, etc.)

½ C. toasted wheat germ

½ C. flax seeds

½ C. hulled sunflower seeds

¼ C. sesame seeds

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats, or spray well with cooking spray.
  2. Add the honey, butter, canola oil and vanilla to a medium saucepan. Warm over low heat, until the butter is melted; whisking periodically to blend (emulsify) the butter and oil into the honey. Remove from heat.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper until combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a large bowl, pour oats, wheat germ, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Toss with your hands to combine.
  5. Pour the honey spice mixture over the oat mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula while pressing against the sides of the bowl to be sure that honey spice mixture evenly coats the oat mixture.
  6. Divide between the two prepared baking sheets, and spread into a thin layer in the pans.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until toasted and golden brown. Stirring is important for even toasting, and to keep the granola from being adhered to the pan.
  8. Remove from the oven (do not stir yet) and cool completely on the baking sheets.
  9. Once cooled, gently stir to break apart, leaving some larger chunks.
  10. Store in quart jars or other airtight container.  Serve alone as a snack, over yogurt, or in a bowl with milk. (Or ice cream!)

VARIATION: For Chocolate Chai Granola, whisk ¼ C. unsweetened cocoa powder with the spices into the warm honey mixture. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

 

About these ads