There are a few (alright, many) foods that just don't last long in my pantry. I'll tell myself i'm just going to have a little bit and then gradually end up going back for more until the whole thing is gone. Granola is one of them. It's something about the crunchy texture with a bit of chewy sweetness that makes it hard to stop eating it right out of the container. The easiest way to not eat 24 servings of granola is to just not make it but I was wandering Health Beat* on friday afternoon and came across raw hazelnuts freshly bagged and refridgerated and just couldn't resist them. I decided that since I had most of the ingredients at home anyway it couldn't hurt to make just one batch to have with yogurt in the morning so I happily grabbed a bag of hazelnuts, some bulk sesame seeds, a bottle of mild agave nectar and beat it out of there before i found anything else that I just HAD to try (grain sweetened carob peanut butter cups anyone?).
In the past I've always made granola with honey, maple syrup, and just a little brown sugar but I've never been able to achieve those coveted clusters. I decided that I probably just wasn't using the right kind of sweetener which lead me to try the agave nectar.** Since I've never really been %100 happy with any of the granola recipes I've tried in the past, I decided to just make this up as I went. I started with a base of 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats and went from there. The end result was crunchy and clumpy and would have been perfect had I used a large enough sheet pan. I have really small oven however, and therefore make most things in a half jelly roll pan. I would suggest using a full pan or making it in two batches. Next time I will probably just use Max's normal size oven because if I have to make this in two batches I will probably finish eating the first before the second is even finished baking ;).
*I should have known better than to turn myself loose in a natural foods store. I only went in there for some diijon mustard but I came out with hazelnuts, fresh chicken sausage, agave nectar, and various bags filled with bulk items. Oh Well. It could have been worse, I could have ordered the local, organic turkey ($4/lb eek!) that I considered for a brief moment for our upcoming thanksgiving dinner. Of course then I came to my senses and determined that was far too expensive. I don't even like turkey.
**I like agave doesn't spike the blood sugar the way regular sugar does and it also doesn't leave that nasty sticky syrupy feeling in your mouth the way corn syrup does.
Hazelnut Almond Granola
Makes about 6 cups. All measurements are approximate, partly because I didn't really measure and partly because I only half remember what I did. I think the applesauce is a key ingredient here for clumping and a good way to add natural sweetness. Replacing 1/4 cup of apple sauce with apple cider would also probably help form clusters but I'm really picky about my cider and the farmer's markets are done for the year so I've said goodbye to cider season. At least in the non-alcoholic form ;).
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds (I used dry roasted cause I have ridiculous size jug from Costco)
- 1/3 cup mild tasting agave nectar
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 3 tbls brown sugar (I used light but dark is fine too. Once my surplus of brown sugar is gone I will probably start using Muscovado instead. It's a good raw sugar replacement for that refined molasses coated junk)
- Nutmeg (a little goes a long way)
- Ground ginger
- A healthy pour of vanilla extract (maybe 1-2 teaspoons?)
- Almond or coconut extracts also work well here
- Dried fruit like cranberries, currants or unsweetened cherries (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add wet ingredients and stir well to coat.
- Lightly grease a large jelly roll pan (or any pan with sides) and spread granola in a single layer.
- Be sure to leave enough space to let the air circulate and completely dry out the granola
- It will probably be slightly soft when you first take it out but it'll crisp up at it cools
- DO NOT stir it because that will break up the clusters