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Granola

Granola

Like many college students, I had a serious carb addiction. But not just any addiction, it was very specific. In the dining halls, we had multiple tables set up for cereal (this was before they had the towering plastic dispensers). And at these tables, I became addicted to crack- Cracklin Oat Bran that is. In a bland, painfully boring box hid a ridiculously delicious cereal that had me salivating just thinking about it. What was this devil in cereal disguise you ask? Seemingly plain old granola formed into boxy little “O”s. And this is how they get you, because as innocent as it looked, one crunchy, sweet, slightly coconuty, vanilla-y, bite of this taste sensation had me hooked. Meal after meal, this was all I could eat.

Fast forward several decades and I still need to stay away from it. For one thing, it’s outrageously expensive. And this is not one of those cereals that is BOGO ever-not that I would trust myself near two boxes. Besides, it tends to have a lot of sugar and oil, more like dessert than breakfast. And finally, a grown woman with adult children really shouldn’t be salivating over boxed cereal, it’s frowned upon and just sad… So what do I do when I have a hankering for crack, but need to act like an adult? Make my own Granola of course!

This is a decidedly adult version of Granola that incorporates nostalgic flavors but also has an elevated mysterious twist- a Granola that has so much going for it. Toasty, cinnamon spiced nuts and oats with chewy dried fruit… but not just any fruit: mango, orange, shaved coconut chips, and the mystery ingredient, candied ginger. Your house will smell amazing while it cooks. It lasts for weeks, and does double (triple?) duty as a snack, cereal, or topping for yogurt or ice cream. And please don’t blame me for your addiction 😉

ingredients granola

One of the things I love most about making my own granola is completely controlling what’s in it. My granola is sweet, but not cloyingly so. I sweeten it with honey because it does such a good job of making the granola clump and stick together, but you can use maple syrup to make it vegan. I love to add chia and sesame seeds because they add a really nice crunchy pop. I used almonds here, but pecans or any other nut you love will work beautifully too. If you have a nut allergy, you can substitute an equal amount of pumpkin or sunflower seeds. And if you prefer more traditional fruits, have at it, the possibilities are endless. Raisins are traditional, but any of your favorites would work: cranberries, blueberries, figs, apricots, etc. Just make sure to chop any large fruit so they are around the same size.

It’s important to use rolled oats instead of the instant oats. The instant kind are too thin and will burn before everything is as crispy and toasty as we want it. Extra thick oats, if you can find it, are a great use here.

oats granola

chia granola

honey

I like to use coconut oil because it enhances the soft coconut flavor that is clearly my kryptonite, but you can use whatever oil you like.

Mix everything really well and then it’s time to bake your granola! I line a baking sheet with parchment paper so nothing sticks. Putting the raw granola into a thick disk keeps little bits from burning. Baking low and slow is the key to golden brown granola that has a lot of delicate ingredients like almonds and coconut shavings mixed in.

I don’t really feel like the shape helps with clumping at this point. Despite what others may advise, no amount of shaping, pressing, or careful handling at the baking stage will help your granola clump. The clumping will come later. And it really doesn’t matter anyway, because you still have to mix in fruit later.

bake granola

While the Granola bakes, I chop up the dried fruit. Cut all of the fruit the same size, except for the ginger which I cut into tiny pieces. I like the fruit cut so that it’s about the size of a raisin so it mixes in well with the Granola, but feel free to cut it larger if you like.

dried mango

The granola will be nicely browned and crisp when it’s done, and then I add in the fruit while the granola is piping hot. Once the granola is well mixed, take a couple of spatulas or wooden spoons, and press the granola together. As the granola cools, it will clump and harden. Resist the urge to touch it until it has completely cooled to room temperature. You can break up the bigger pieces if you wish.

Store the Granola in a sealed container away from moisture. It will soften a bit from the dried fruit the longer it sits but will still be delicious! It’s fine stored at room temperature but you can also store it in the freezer. Let it sit out for 10 minutes before eating so it’s not rock hard.

dried fruit granola

This Granola is excellent just by the handful or tucked into a lunch box. You can also use it to top these Overnight Oats and of course you can enjoy it with your favorite kind of milk or with yogurt.

Whip this up over the weekend; you will be so glad you did. Let me know if you have any comments or questions about this recipe, and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

 

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recipe card granola closeup

Granola

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup chopped roasted almonds (or any kind of nuts)
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • ½ cup coconut flakes (I used large flakes for texture and visual appeal)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil or neutral vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup

Dried Fruit:

You can use any combination you like up to 1 cup total

  •   cup finely chopped dried mango
  • ¼ cup finely chopped candied ginger, optional
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped dried orange, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and move the oven shelf to the middle.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the dried fruit: oats, almonds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, coconut flakes, almonds, cinnamon, sea salt, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and honey. Stir well to combine.
  4. Scoop out the granola into the pan and press into a 1 inch thick disk in the center of the lined pan. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and then stir the granola with a fork and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Take the pan out of the oven and add the dried fruit. Mix well and then use a couple of spatulas or wooden spoons to press the granola together. (This will encourage clumping and the formation of larger pieces).
  7. Let the granola cool completely in the pan, about 30 minutes. Break up the granola with your hands or a fork as desired. Transfer to an airtight container.
  8. Store the granola at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let the granola thaw for 10 minutes before serving for best texture.

Notes

*you can use whatever dried fruit you like: raisins, cranberries, figs, and apricots are all good choices. Chop the larger fruit so they match the other ingredients.

*I use roasted nuts because I like nuts extra toasty and they do not burn or get overly dark. You can of course use unroasted nuts if you prefer.

*If you are allergic to nuts, use pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead.


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