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Monday, October 18, 2010

Let's Get Crunchy

I am not a crunchy person, but I do love a good bowl of granola.  Not the overly sweetened variety that's available commercially, but something a little more sophisticated.  Something that's not too sweet and has just the right amount of crunch.  For years I have been working on coming up with the perfect balance, but there's a reason so many granolas miss the mark.  It's because it's hard to do.

After about a zillion tries, I have come to the conclusion that it's all in the baking.  You have to bake it low and slow.  And you have to pay attention because it works best if you bake it in a single layer and give it a stir every ten minutes or so.  This will help produce the golden color and crunchy texture.  Okay, I know it's a pain, but you're going to the trouble to make it so just go for it.

I don't like my granola too sweet, and the recipe below is just right. Sometimes I think that granolas have too many ingredients instead of just the right ones.  It's cloying and heavy and quite frankly, not a great way to start out the day.  They often have too many different kinds of dried fruit (including raisins that have the texture of stones.) This granola is fairly simple and relies only on chopped apricots to add the chewy factor after it's baked.

You can use the nuts I use (pistachios and pumpkin seeds) or substitute in the same amount of whatever you choose.  Go with the olive oil.  I think it's lighter and not as greasy as vegetable oil.  If you like dried fruits other than apricots, be a rebel and go for it.  (But, if you use raisins, make sure they're soft.)  This is your chance to be a culinary artist!  Create!

Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios
(Adapted from New York Times, 2009)


3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and candamom.  Spread the minture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine.

Makes about 9 cups.

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