Maple & Almond Granola. Scrumptious Maple & Almond Granola.
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a recipe that didn’t contain chocolate or bourbon.
Hands down, this is the best granola I’ve ever eaten.
I’ve said before that one of the best things about having this lovely little blog/website/community of friends here at Idiot’s Kitchen is that people now volunteer to give me their best recipes.
This granola is no exception. My friend Rob McManus (great oboist) mentioned that I should try his mom’s granola recipe and a few days later, there it was in my email inbox. Any hesitation that I may have had about being a granola novice was quickly erased by the fact that I would trust Mrs. McManus and her instincts on granola and just about everything else. If she says it’s good – scrumptious was HER word, then it’s good.
My past, somewhat limited granola experience, was always just some clumpy, sort of greasy, overly sweet stuff that arrived on a yogurt parfait.
Well, NOT THIS GRANOLA! It is flavored with maple syrup so it doesn’t have any overtly sweet, sugary flavor. And the binder holding the granola together is Olive Oil! Weird, I know, but really, really good.
Enough talk, here’s what you need:
Old Fashioned Oats, Raw Almonds, Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas), Coconut Flakes, Maple Syrup, Olive Oil, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg (not pictured), Salt, Dried Apricots, and Craisins (Dried Cranberries).
It is important that you buy good ingredients and always by raw nuts. You don’t want nuts that have already been roasted and/or salted. If you have a Whole Foods or Food Co-Op in your area, you’re probably set for raw nuts (and other ingredients). My regular old grocery store sells them but they are sometimes hidden in the produce section or the organic/green section rather than the regular nut section.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of Old Fashioned Oats (not instant!), 1 1/2 cups raw almonds, and 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are sometimes also called Pepitas.
Add 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes.
I am not a huge coconut fan but I love these coconut flakes or chips. They are unsweetened and taste like real coconut and not that sticky coconut flavored stuff found in candy. I found coconut flakes in the baking aisle at Whole Foods.
Don’t skip the coconut flakes, they toast up in the oven and are an incredibly tasty addition to the granola.
Add 1/2 cup of olive oil
and 1 cup of Pure Maple Syrup. Be sure to buy the good stuff…real maple syrup and nothing with corn syrup added to it.
Season with 1 teaspoon of salt since the raw nuts are unsalted.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
One of the secret ingredients of this recipe is the spice cardamom which has a very distinct flavor. Cardamom is often found in baked goods and for some weird reason makes me sneeze. Since I didn’t know how I would react (sneezing and all) to the cardamom, I only used 1/4 teaspoon. If you know that you like cardamom and are not sneezing, feel free to add the 1/2 teaspoon that the original recipe calls for.
To make up for the lack of cardamom, I also added 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (not shown but highly recommended). I think the nutmeg was a good addition and would suggest adding it anyway.
Stir the granola together until it is well and thoroughly combined.
Pour the granola into a baking dish or roasting pan. Choose something with high sides so that you can easily stir the granola while it bakes without spilling it over the sides of the pan.
Bake the granola at 300 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes being sure to stir the granola EVERY 10 MINUTES while it is cooking until it is golden brown and well toasted.
Note: I happen to have a non-stick roasting pan. If you are using a regular pan, be prepared that the granola might stick a bit. Some vigorous stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula should help you get all the bits up from the bottom of the pan.
While the granola cooks, chop up 3/4 – 1 cup of dried apricots. I used a 6 oz package of dried apricots minus the 2 or 3 that I had to eat while chopping.
I also decided to add some dried cranberries or Craisins – about 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup.
Remember that you must stir the granola every 10 minutes. You might want to set the kitchen timer as a reminder.
Once the granola is golden brown and toasty, dump it into a large bowl and stir in the dried apricots and craisins.
Maple & Almond Granola is great served with fruit and yogurt. Jim likes his like cereal with milk.
It’s also been proven to be very popular as a snack right out of the plastic bag during breaks in orchestra rehearsal.
Go make this granola. It is truly scrumptious.
This makes a big batch of granola – about 10 cups – but it keeps well in an air-tight container. But don’t plan on having it around the house very long, it’s addictive.
Here’s the recipe – adapted from Melissa Clark/NY Times & Ann McManus