I didn’t know that I liked granola until recently. In fact, if I’m being truthful, I didn’t know what granola *was* until recently. My knowledge covered the fact that there was such a thing as a granola bar, but I hadn’t investigated any further until this recipe came along. The recipe is for Almond and Coconut Granola, but it’s wonderfully easy to mess around with and try out different flavours, or to stick with your own favourites if that’s what you feel like doing. I tried one batch using the recipe as written, with a mix of dried cranberries, blueberries and sour cherries for the fruit element, and a second batch with a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, dried apricot and dried apple. This second mix of fruit was a multi-pack of snack boxes and it was the cheapest way to get a mix of dried fruit, which is much more expensive than I remember it being… You could stick with just one kind, but you’d miss out on the variety that makes the recipe so interesting. In the second batch I also subbed half a cup of almond flakes for the cup of whole almonds, since I’m not really a fan of whole almonds. Next time maybe some crushed hazelnuts? Or, I have two packets of pecans in my cupboard because I kept making pecan recipes and forgetting I already had some – maybe I’ll toast them up and put them in.
The smell of the granola while it bakes is fragrant with coconut, cinnamon and vanilla; it made my whole flat smell very enticing, kind of like a gingerbread cottage might smell, but a lot less sticky to live in. The finished granola is sweet and has lots of texture, and is particularly good with oat milk if you want to keep it vegan, or if you just happen to like oat milk It doesn’t turn the milk chocolatey, but it does turn it cinnamon-coconutty, which is a good alternative. The first batch I made got a little too much lovin’ in the oven (by which I mean it was a bit burnt) but really it wasn’t a bad thing; it gave the milk more colour when mixed in and kept its crisp texture better. The second batch was much paler and went quite mushy when mixed with milk, so I suppose the baking time should depend on what texture you’d prefer as well as what colour you want the oats to go.
The photo above shows the granola pushed to the edges of the baking dish to try to encourage it to set into clumps. This didn’t work. It didn’t work the second time, either. I think the first time the problem was the aforementioned over baking (oven lovin’), and I think the second time the problem was that I was a bit liberal with the oats, not rectifying it when some extra spilled over the cup, but didn’t add a bit of extra oil and honey to bind the whole lot together. It’s not a big deal when you’re eating it with milk, but I’d like to get it to set into clumps next time so I can take them to work for a morning snack. Trying to eat loose granola at your desk is just a keyboard dysfunction waiting to happen.
As snacks go, granola’s a pretty good one. There’s plenty of fibre, the sweetness comes from sources that aren’t heavily processed and refined, and using olive oil instead of butter is a definite step away from heart disease. It’s also very satisfying and keeps you full – I think that’s the oats. I won’t be giving up my love of chocolate based cereal, but this is a much healthier alternative. That said, it might work with chocolate chips in it, stirred through at the end. Takes away from the ‘all-natural, vegan-friendly’ vibe, but I might give it a try nonetheless…