Sunday, November 13, 2011
I've never been a big breakfast eater - at least, not in the sense of getting out of bed and being ready to eat right away. My day job is about an hours drive away and several days a week, I leave extra early in order to deliver my kids to their bus stop for school (which is 1.3 miles from our house since we live in the toolies...), so I end up spending about 90 minutes in the car before arriving at the office and I'm usually ready to eat by then, so I like to "brown bag" my breakfast as well as my lunch (a necessity since there is absolutely nowhere to go out for lunch). I really enjoy breakfast foods: eggs & bacon (or ham or sausage), pancakes, waffles, bagels with cream cheese & smoked salmon, cream of wheat or oatmeal and I'm a big fan of granola. I love granola that has lots of nuts - I'm especially fond of pecans and almonds but I also enjoy pumpkin seeds, walnuts and sunflower seeds in it - the chunkier the better. Until recently, I hadn't had any luck getting nuggety, chunky granola. My granola would have great flavor and be loaded with my favorite nuts and seeds, but it would be like individual pieces of lots of ingredients. I often pack cereal to eat dry while I work and chunky granola is a great choice.
I also like glazed or candied nuts and that is how I came up with the method I now use to make granola. I was searching the internet for glazed nut recipes and I kept finding recipes that called for toasting the nuts in the oven, then making a syrup on the stovetop, pouring the toasted nuts into the syrup and, finally, baking the whole thing one more time - and they always came out great! So I though, why not do the same with granola? It worked! So here is the "recipe" I've come up with, of course you can add other ingredients, different nuts, etc. If you'd like to include dried fruit too, I'd recommend adding it either just before baking - so it sticks to the rest of the mixture or I've simply added it after baking. If you add it after baking, it won't over bake, but it will also never really stick to to the granola nuggets - exercise your own preferences:
1 cup coconut, unsweetened works best
3 cups oats
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup canola oil or butter
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon, optional
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, optional
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom, optional
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toast nuts on a baking sheet or roasting pan until centers of the nuts are golden brown 10-15 minutes. Toast coconut on baking sheet until light golden brown - watch it closely as it burns easily 5-10 minutes. Toast oats on baking sheet about 10 minutes. Combine toasted nuts, coconut & oats, set aside.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat oil (or melt butter), syrup (or honey) and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved and it comes to a boil and reduces slightly. Add spices and stir to incorporate. Pour in toasted dry ingredients and stir until coated and all liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and pour into a roasting pan or baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes - until browned just a bit more. Set aside to cool. Break into pieces once cool and store in an airtight container.