The Lean Green Bean

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemade Granola



Hello again, friends!

If you know me, you know that when I get excited about something....I can be a bit on the impatient side. So of course I couldn't wait until tomorrow to try making a post with a picture!
Pictured above is homemade granola. I use Alton Brown's recipe...with a few small changes.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
  • 1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
  • 1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries

Directions

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (One would think that in one of my many cabinets full of baking dishes, I would have a 9x9 pan...but I don't. So I improvise! I make these quite often, so I've used an 8x8 pan, a 9x13 pan that I only filled about 9x9 and just left the rest of the pan empty, and an 8x8 pan plus another small dish that I had laying around so that I could spread it out more instead of stuffing it all into an 8x8 pan. All of these options work just fine. Basically what it comes down to is that the size of the pan doesn't really matter!)

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Check on it every few minutes...in my oven, 15 minutes is way too long and I burned my first batch to a crisp! I measure everything out-you don't have to be exact-onto a jellyroll pan and then just stir it around with a spatula every few minutes until it starts to lightly brown)

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.(Here's where I make the most changes. I use less of all of these ingredients. About 1/3 cup honey, a little less than 1/4 cup brown sugar and no salt. There's no real reason for these changes other than the fact that it makes me feel like the bars are a little bit healthier! The downside is that there is less liquidy stuff to make the ingredients stick together into bar form...so I usually end up with granola clusters, but I don't mind. I've also been thinking about adding some peanut butter to help stuff stick together, but I haven't tried it yet.)

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. (I tend to go a little overboard with the fruit. I use dried cranberriess and raisins...probably more than the amount the recipe calls for. I also add chocolate chips- dark chocolate is best in my opinion. The chips melt a little bit when you mix it all together, but that's ok. Another option is to melt some chocolate chips and drizzle the chocolate over the top when they come out of the oven)

Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week. (In my experience, if you let them cool completely, they are pretty much impossible to cut into nice, neat bars. You can either score them-cut part of the way through- while they are still warm and then finish cutting once they have cooled, or if you don't care if they're in bar form, let them cool and then stab at them with a knife so they break into crumbles- much more fun! If you want them in bar form, don't try to cut them all the way apart when they're warm or they will crumble!)

Enjoy the granola alone, or as a topping, like I did in my yogurt parfait!

--Lindsay--


ps....here's the link to the original recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/granola-bars-recipe/index.html

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