Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good holiday. We sure did! I'm not sure if it was the economy, the snowstorm, the change in political hands, or nothing in particular, but I was extra thankful and had an especially wonderful time with my family and friends this holiday season. I feel very fortunate to have all these great people in my life.
I like to make holiday treats for friends and family every holiday season. I like to make something different evey year, and I decided on Granola for this season. I managed to get packages out to the kids' school teachers, and then the snowstorm hit, and brought with it an end to my plan of hand-delivering granola to my close friends. Oh well, we had a huge cookie party instead and at least those who lived close enough to walk/sled were able to come. If you didn't get the granola, I promise I will make it up to you :-)
I have had many requests for the Granola recipe, and I think I know why. I have tried many granola recipes - some are way too greasy, some too dry, some too sweet, some too dessert-like, some way too lowfat (yuck). Not many hit the mark. This one is a great master recipe. Add/substitute nuts of your choice, add in more/less dry fruits, your call. But in my mind, why mess with this. The almonds and pepitas add lovely color and crunch, and the cranberries are oh-so-pretty and lend a welcome tartness. If you like ginger, some chopped up crystallized ginger would be great, but I left it out since ginger is not universally preferred.
Sprinkle the granola over your favorite yogurt, have it with some milk (this is the one time I abandon my non-fat milk and grab the whole milk), or simply have some around as a snack.
The recipe can easily be doubled or halved, but if you double it, you will still want to cook it in two batches. Unless you have a double-oven in your home (I hate you). Don't even think of cramming the doubled-amount onto 2 baking sheets! You want the granola to bake evenly!
The granola will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 weeks. For longer storage, refrigerate or freeze.
Maple Almond Granola
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 8 cups
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups untoasted sliced almonds
1 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp fine-grain kosher salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup (add a few more tablespoons if you want it sweeter)
1 cup dried cranberries
1. Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Stir oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, salt, oil, cinnamon, and maple syrup together in a large bowl.
3. Spread mixture evenly on two large jelly roll pans (or lipped baking sheets). Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until mixture is golden brown, approx. 45 - 55 minutes. Every oven is different, so keep a close eye especially towards the end. You can tell the granola is done when it starts smelling toasted. Don't worry if it looks a bit 'wet'. It will crunch up when it cools.
4. Cool the granola completely on the baking sheets placed on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, stir in cranberries and ginger, if using.