Gorgeous Breakfast: Best Granola EVER
Monday, March 28, 2011
I consider myself somewhat of a granola snob. I love everything about granola: the texture, the colors, the different colors and flavors, and most of all, the health factor. It's one of those Foods Done Right that bridge the sometimes huge gap between Good Tasting and Good For You. That said, there is an obscene amount of inferior granolas out there. I'm sorry to say Starbucks has a version with their otherwise tasty sour cherry yogurt, but that's another blog entirely. Boxed granolas tend to taste chalky, stale, and a little weird. I beyond prefer the taste of freshly made granola. And it's so easy to make yourself.
I've had two extraordinary granolas in my life: the first time was on a trip to Santa Barbara with The Hubsters and a then Baby Girl at a B&B in the middle of July; the other is a granola made by my good friend and cookbook partner Chandra of Foodfilosofi. And hers is most superior of all. Often I find I can improve upon even slightly most recipes. Yes, that is a bold statement so deal with it. I'm working on perfecting a pasta salad receip from Whole Foods right now. But occasionally I'll come a cross a recipe that is perfect -- needs no tweaking to balance anything out. And such is this recipe for granola. It's crunchy and chewy at the same time, the toasted coconut is wonderful, the pumpkin seeds are delightful, the orange essence is intoxicating. And she's right -- it makes your whole house smell good. Chandra originally wrote the recipe back in fall using cranberries and dried papaya and pumpkin seeds, but you can just as easily eat it in winter, spring, or summer. And the seeds and nuts are easy to swap out too; I didn't have pepitas but had sesame seeds and used those with great results too. You can use dried pineapple instead of papaya (although the color of the papaya is really hard to pass up) and even dried cherries or currants instead of cranberries. Play around with it. And I promise you: after you try this recipe you'll never buy store-bought granola again.
Coconut and Orange Granola, with Dried Papaya and Cranberries
8 cups rolled oats
3 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds)
1 1/2 cup dried papaya
1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded coconut
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup raw coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat up coconut oil until it turns to liquid. This coconut oil usually comes in a jar and is solid and of a waxy consistency. Add honey and brown sugar. Mix until combined. Cool. Add vanilla. Set aside. Mix together oats, pepitas, pecans, and shredded coconut. Add orange zest, combine. Pour coconut oil mixture over the oats and mix. In batches, spread evenly over an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, approximately 10-12 minutes, tossing regularly for an even toast. Caution, it is very easy to overcook and even burn the granola. Remove from oven, cool, then add dried fruit. Delicious as a cereal, or even over vanilla ice cream.
My oven runs on rocket fuel so I baked my granola at 325 degrees. To ensure even cooking and prevent burning, make sure to stir the granola about occasionally with a spatula. I turned mine 3 times and it came out perfectly. You can store the baked and fully cooked granola in an air-tight container or gallon sized freezer bag at room temperature. It'll keep as long as a typical cereal, although I doubt you'll have it that long.
If you can't find coconut oil, you can use vegetable, canola, or safflower oil. I used Quaker Oats oatmeal oats. And I added a small pinch of salt as well.
Makes a wonderful and very easy first course for breakfast party served with milk or with yogurt. I'd go with a simple plain or vanilla yogurt to let the granola's beauty really stand out. And like Chandra says, this is insane over ice cream as well. Enjoy it!