When I had a craving for some homemade granola but no handy recipes, my faithful foodie Twitter pals came to my rescue, showering me with wonderful suggestions and helpful links. Each recipe looked better than the previous one, and I was unable to choose one single version to try. So I printed out a handful, lined them up on my countertop, and chose the best elements from each one, adding a few of my own favorite touches here and there, to create a whole new recipe.
I love to combine honey and brown sugar, so both of those went in. I also like the way turbinado sugar adds a bit of crunch, so I threw some of that in there too. I used small proportions of each of these sweeteners, so the end result is not all that sweet. Crunchy almonds are great for providing body and substance, but they can actually be pretty subtle in flavor ~ a small boost from a tiny bit of almond extract brings them to the forefront.
I added sesame seeds for another layer of flavor, and a bit of vegetable oil to make the mix a bit more supple. You can omit it, but the oat mixture seemed a little dry to me without some oil, since it uses only 1/4 cup of honey as a liquid agent. The end result isn’t oily at all, so I was very pleased with the outcome.
The beauty of granola is that you can add (or omit) whatever you want, or whatever you happen to have on hand. Customize your mix to suit your moods, the seasons, your kids’ picky palates, whatever. Enjoy!
Cherry Berry Granola
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, brown sugar, honey, oil, sesame seeds, turbinado sugar, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt. Toss to coat all ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with the tablespoon of butter. Pour oat mixture out onto baking sheet and use a spatula to smooth it down, covering the entire sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 250 degrees F, stirring the oat mixture every 15 minutes. The mixture will turn golden brown and dry out as it bakes. It will firm up as it cools.
- Leave on baking sheet until completely cool, then pour into a large container with a tightly fitting lid. Add cherries and cranberries and stir to combine. Will keep for at least a week at room temperature ~ if it lasts that long.
- You want a nice slow oven for this ~ gradually, the liquid in the honey will dry out, the sugars will melt, and the oil will be absorbed, binding the ingredients into delicious sweet, nutty nuggets.
- You can add whatever dried fruit you like to this. Try raisins, chopped dried apricots, apple or banana chips, dried raspberries or blueberries ~ whatever your heart (and palate) desires. Just be sure to add your fruit in after baking, once your mix has cooled. Otherwise, it will become leathery and tough.
- Got a sweet tooth? Add in M&M’S, chocolate chips, peanut butter or butterscotch baking chips, chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate- or yogurt-covered raisins.
- Want to sneak in some more protein? Try adding sunflower seeds, chopped hazelnuts, pignoli nuts, chopped pecans, wheat germ, soy nuts, or roasted peanuts.