Yes! Spring. Has. Arrived. We are knee-deep in it and surely we have the produce to show for it. Maybe the start of some tan lines too from those afternoon walks/outdoor lunch/coffee breaks? Yep. Side note: I have been better about wearing sunscreen, mostly because of my finace*.
*yes, that happened! And I'll gladly use granola as a segueway.
...I'll elaborate on the above, because it truly makes my heart warm and happy.
I've had the amazing privelidge to trave to Brazil to visit the love of my life, and to meet his family and friends. And also eat and drink all the amazing Brazilian foods...there are so many! And many I want to try to re-create here, and hopefully share here.
As does a good batch of granola. So, I'll get back on that crunchy granola train...ps: granola and seasonal fruit are best buds! Homemade granola > store purchased granola. Also, it is cheaper, so simple, and makes your kitchen smell *amazing*. A huge return on your small time and dirty-dish investment.
Granola for me has to be crisp, but not tooth-breaking. It has to be sweet, but not...like candy, and rely on natural sweetener. It must be full of nuts, seeds, groats and nibs for all of the texture. And for me, I leave the dried fruit out. If you like, add it after you bake, and eat it within a few days since the moisture from the fruit will cause the dry granola to get soggy (and the fruit will dry out even more). I like to make a double batch of this, bake it on 2 cookie sheets, and freeze the granola. It lasts for a few months if kept frozen, so...stock up now, your future self thanks you!
For me, the trick with granola is to bake it at a lower temp for a longer time. It produces a chunky, super crunchy but not burnt granola. And trust me, I've made (and burnt) a lot of granola. Let me make those mistakes for you. Low temp and long time is where the sweet spot is, my friends!A note on sweetener: I really do think maple is the superior sweetner for granola. I find that honey and agave brown much too quickly, even at lower temps. Brown ricy syrup could work, but is pretty sticky and goopy to incorporate. Coconut nectar works as well, but since I usually don't stock it in my pantry, it isn't my go-to (but if it is for you, I highly recommend you make the granola with cashews-such a great pair!). As for oil, I prefer to use virgin coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Olive oil, even the extra-virgin kind, works as well, just be mindful of the flavor if that matters to you. Customize your blend with whatever nuts, seeds, groats and nibs you'd like! The options are endless. The recipe below is my "usual", but as long as you follow the proportions, you'll be golden...just like this 'nola :)Pair this crunchy stuff with seasonal fruit (or just the old stand-by: banana!) and your yogurt of choice (I have been on a serious greek yogurt kick lately). You cannot go wrong! Granola is also fabulous as a smoothie/smoothie bowl topping, ice cream topping, or even just plain with your milk of choice. Or just straight outta the bag/jar. Granola is also a nice gift...I'd happilly accept a jar of this stuff any day!
My Go-To Granola Formula // makes about 6-7 cups //
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup shreddd or flaked unsweetened coconut
- 2 cups nuts/seeds/groats/cacao nibs (any combo you like! My go-to is walnuts and sunflowerseeds, and sometimes a handful of cacao nibs and raw buckwheat groats-not kasha)
- 1/2 tsp tea salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup liquid fat (see above for my preferences!)
- 1 TB cinnamon (yep, a whole tablespoon)
1. Preheat oven to 250F. Line half sheet pan with parchment or silpat (or use 2 pans if you are making a double batch)
2. Mix everything together in a large bowl.
3. Spread into an even layer, patting semi-firmly. Bake for 2 hours, checking at 1.5 hours for doneness. You may need to rotate halfway through baking if your oven has hot spots.
4. Allow the granola to cool *completely* either on the counter, or open your oven door half-way, and allow to cool in there. Store granola in bags or a jar for up to 2 weeks on the counter, or for up to 3 months in the freezer. Mix in dried fruit right before enjoying for optimum freshness/crunchiness!
Chunks galore! High five to you for conquering the granola formula!