Monday, March 5, 2012

Granola Bliss: My Favorite Granola Recipe

Last month, I picked up an issue of "Cooks Illustrated" and was caught off-guard by the beautifully sketched cooking techniques and flavorful recipe inclusions. One such recipe, in fact, warranted an active response on the part of the reader, and well, I took the plunge and made what I now consider the best granola I've ever had. I will admit, I'm always biased when tasting my own creations but perhaps not in the most traditional sense. I tend to think much of my food is mediocre or semi-compelling, but my husband always disagrees, and typically so do my friends. However, this granola, if made correctly (which is easy to do) beats out any granola you've bought at the store. I encourage you to try out this recipe next time you need a yogurt topping or cereal add-in. You won't be disappointed!

Spiced Apple Granola with Walnuts and Raisins
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated recipe, Feb/March 2012 issue

1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
5 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (*do not use quick oats)
1 c. raw walnuts, chopped coarse
1 c. raw sliced almonds
1 ½ c. dried apples, chopped
3/4 c. raisins or dried cranberries

1.       Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.       Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, pepper, salt, and oil in a large oil. Fold in oats, walnuts and almonds and coat thoroughly. (*Do not add dried fruit to this mixture. It will be added after the granola is baked and cooled.)
3.       Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (about 3/8 inch thick). Using stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 20-30 minutes, watching closely and rotating pan halfway through baking.
4.       When done, remove granola from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature, about an hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size.
5.       Stir in chopped dried apples and raisins. Enjoy right away or store in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

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