For months, Kristen and I have been on a yogurt and granola kick.
And with that came several months of trying to figure out the perfect granola for the both of us. It had to be sweet but not too sweet, evenly coated, with some clumps interspersed in the mix, crunchy and still flavorful on it's own.
So, every few weeks, I'd try a different granola recipe and tweak it to both of our preferences. That was the first true recipe testing I have done and it was an eye opening experience. There was a batch where half of the oats didn't get coated in the syrup ingredients, a batch which I didn't fully bake all the way and a batch which I almost burnt.
When I got pink eye, I had what I called my "Feel Better Breakfast" ever morning. My eye would be so swollen every morning for a week and a half that all I wanted to do when I woke up was and lay on my back with a hot compress until the last possible minute before I went to work. To motivate myself to get to work, I'd make parfaits in a jam jar—layering yogurt with blueberry compote, granola and honey.
The granola got a bit soggy by the time I got to work but I loved marveling at the layers in the jam jar. It made me feel just a little bit better with my overly puffy eye and glasses.
With this granola, the key to crunchiness without over browning it (which I am often prone to doing), is to bake it on low and turn the oats in the pan often. I generally make my granola at night so after it's done, I turn off the oven and leave it in there overnight. This also helps to create clumps. When it's completely cooled and dry, you can break off chunks as necessary and carefully place it in your desired container.
For this granola, a caramel-type sauce is made in a pot or small pan to bind the oats together. This is one of those mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together separately and then bring them together to combine.
The cranberries are optional but I find that they add a nice tart-chewiness.
You can also swap out the nuts with whatever you have on hand. Just make sure to use old fashioned oats. I accidentally got the quick cooking kind once and it just isn't the same.
Now, I am tempted to bring back "Feel Better Breakfastes" even though my eye is back to normal.
The Ultimate Granola
Yields: about 4 cups
2 cups old fashioned oats
½ cup cashews
½ cup coconut chips
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup ground flax seed (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, browned
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teapsoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 250ºF. Line a baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.
In a small pot, brown the butter. Add in the coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined and bubbly. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir together until the oats are evenly coated.
Pour out onto the lined baking sheet and pat out into an even layer. Bake at intervals of 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 5 minutes, turning the granola at each time interval. If adding in cranberries, mix them in at the end.
To cool, either remove from the oven or turn off the oven and leave the pan to cool overnight.