Last year I decided to give out little bags of homemade granola to my friends as a personalized holiday gift. I was so impressed with myself for coming up with this cute idea – I bought little bags, ribbons, and a holiday rubber stamp so I could make them retail quality. I’m all about crunchy granola, so I searched for a recipe that sounded good and did what I always do – follow the recipe until I think I know better. I cooked the hell out of the granola, and although it tasted good – it was like eating pebbles. The second batch was better, but I used coconut oil, which I knew wasn’t genius, but it was all I had. The granola didn’t really get crispy because coconut oil has a melting point of 76*F. Even in a solid form, it’s pretty soft (think slightly chilled butter).
So, I did all this preparation; made large batches of granola, packaged, personalized and bragged about my creative endeavor – but I didn’t put it in the freezer to keep it fresh. No preservatives and plastic bags = stale granola. Although the thought was there, and my friends were sweet enough not to say anything, we all knew I gave them old cereal for Christmas.
So, here’s what I learned: don’t use coconut oil for the fat content, don’t cook granola for 3-hours, and once it’s made, store in a container in the freezer. The recipe I present here, my newest (and most successful) isn’t overly sweet; it’s very nutritious, and will keep you quite… regular. If you drink coffee AND consume this granola for breakfast, make sure you’re close proximity to a restroom.
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
4 cups organic oats
1 cup toasted crispy rice
2 cups bran flakes or shredded spoonfuls (see picture)
1 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (toasted and salted)
1 cup (toasted) coconut flakes
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots (sliced thin)
Shop the bulk section! You can get organic and interesting ingredients, like toasted crispy rice (top bag) flaked coconut, and sulfite free dried fruit.
Always toast your nuts! (Be careful – they go from browned to burnt in minutes.)
Make your granola:
Preheat oven to 275*F. In a low/medium heated skillet, toast coconut flakes until lightly browned, set aside; toast almonds and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients oats through salt. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine wet ingredients (oil, syrup and honey). Stir well to combine and spread mixture in a greased 12×15″ roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes, stir and continue baking for another 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, stir in raisins and apricots and let cool completely; store in an air-tight container in the freezer.