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Almond Date Granola Recipe

Posted by Amie / March 15, 2010

Almond Date Granola
Granola is something I crave when it starts getting a little bit warmer. Tangy yogurt, fresh fruit, a terrasse...mmm...Montreal. But like the weather, it's probably a trick. It sucks you in with promises of sunny days outside/seems so good for you. Lots of dried fruit and nuts and oats. Just don't think about the cup of sugar or 1/4 cup of butter (or vegan margerine). In an effort to feel like I was doing something good for my body post-cake, I made granola. I should have probably just gone for a bike ride. I do think, however, that everyone but me should make this recipe.

I'll admit I haven't had the most luck with granola-making. I'm foiled by it every time. I have not yet quit life because of it as my yoga teacher thought I should, but neither have I made amazing granola...

...that's where you come in. It's not the recipe's fault. The recipe is lovely. Try making the granola and when you're successful, let me know. At least my results were better than the last time I tried making granola. In a valiant effort to remedy my past granola mistakes I went to a new granola source. I followed this new recipe as best I could, including using the called-for 1/4 cup of butter which made my lactose-intolerant stomach and not-so-butter-proof thighs nervous. I figured that if the French ate granola it would be made consistently with this recipe, so that made it acceptable in my books.

Ingredients
5 cups oats
1/4 cup flour
A few handfuls of almonds, chopped (or other nuts of choice)
Maybe some seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp. I skipped it. In the end I wanted dessert, not health)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I used a 1" cinnamon stick, but have been informed that the original recipe owner usually grinds a whole lot of cinnamon fresh. About a half cup, he says, but I don't believe him, and I love cinnamon. Use at your discretion)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (If you don't have any, just use an extra teaspoon of vanilla)
A handful of chopped dates (or raisins if you hate chopping dates. Or other dried fruit)

Directions:
1. Melt the butter with the molasses and honey in a small sauce pan over medium heat.

Simple, right? Well, sort of. I had the ingenious idea of using a whole cinnamon stick instead of ground cinnamon, and infusing the melted butter mixture with the stick, but I didn't really let it infuse very long so I kind of didn't take advantage of the potential potency of the fresh cinnamon. I know it should be so good, using fresh instead of ground, but only if I use it correctly, which I didn't. Cue the French woman hitting me over the head with a pot for not knowing how to cook with butter correctly. If she's elderly she's probably just throwing a croissant at me. High in butter, light enough to throw. More subtle point.

So either use ground cinnamon and add it later, or simmer the butter/honey until the cinnamon flavour really comes out (maybe 20 minutes? Don't burn the butter).

And my honey wasn't great. It just tasted like sweet. No real honey taste. There are so many good honeys in Quebec and I picked a boring one. Next time I'll go with one I trust, maybe a buckwheat honey, or a blueberry honey. Definitely a liquid honey this time.

2. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the vanilla and almond extracts.

You could also use a real vanilla bean and infuse it with the butter, the same way I should have infused the cinnamon stick in the melted butter - a whole lot longer.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Granola
4. Combine all the dry ingredients except the dried fruit (flour, oats, nuts, salt, seeds, ground cinnamon) in a large bowl and pour the butter mixture over top. Stir it all together.

5. Spread the clusters evenly in a buttered pan and bake for 30 minutes.

6. Then flip the granola over and bake 10 more minutes.

7. Top the granola with the dates (or other dried fruit), and stick it back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

If it looks a bit dry hen you add the fruit, or a little too brown like it's going to burn, don't wait a whole 10 minutes. you can rotate the pan in the oven to try to bake it more evenly, but normally the middle of the pan will cook less and the edges will cook more. So my suggestion to any gung-ho granola makers (whether or not you belong to a granola-making cooperative) would be to move entire sections of the granola around when you flip it over. I had been flipping little-black-book-sized pieces of granola over to exactly where they had lain before. Try flipping the outer pieces into the middle, or flipping the outer onto a plate, moving a middle piece to the edge and playing a tetris-type game to shift around the remaining pieces (make sure it's a tetris game where the bottom layer doesn't disappear, at least until fully baked...).

8. When the granola comes out, break it up with a spatula.

Either let it cool in the pan, or if it's looking a bit dark, transfer it to a bowl and eat the darker bits. They're good now when they're hot but when they cool they'll seem even more over-cooked.

Alternatively to this recipe, you could also try this granola recipe with egg whites instead of flour...that should also work fine, unless you're me and seem to even more consistently mess it up.

Happy baking!

Extra recipe for those who made it to the end, and especially for those who love muffins (I actually have a book called the 250 best muffin recipes. Some are not exceptional recipes and I doubt that they deserve to be included in the book, but lemon poppy-seed is amazing, and I hope these are among the best)!

Lemon Poppy-Seed Muffins
Ingredients
2 eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons-worth of juice)
1/2 cup melted butter (or oil, or margarine)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking power
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp poppy seeds

Muffin Topping
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp poppy seeds

Instructions
1. Line or grease a 12-muffin muffin pan
2. Preheat the oven to 400º F (204º C)
3. In a large bowl blend the lemon zest, flour, salt, baking powder, and first amounts of sugar and poppy seeds
4. In a medium bowl blend the eggs, butter and lemon juice. If you don't have quite enough lemon juice, add enough milk (regular, soy, almond, or rice milk) to get 3/4 cup.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix them together, just until combined.
6. Fill your greased muffin tins or un-greased liners
7. Divide the remaining teaspoon of sugar between each muffin.
8. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds on the muffins.
9. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes. They're done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out dry, with no crumbs clinging to it.
10. Cool in the pan for ten minutes, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Eat at any point in this last step...

Discussion

16 Comments

ladygrey / March 16, 2010 at 09:54 pm
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Granola is difficult to make, I agree!
My mother makes her own, and it's outrageously delicious. She's tried to teach me but with limited success. She doesn't follow a recipe. She just does it like it's second nature. I think she uses only honey or maple syrup for the sweetener, as the molasses makes the granola quite dark.
Anyway, this granola looks great... with big crunchy clusters, just the way I like it!
Amie replying to a comment from ladygrey / March 20, 2010 at 03:44 pm
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Mothers always make the best baked goods. It's a rule, I think. It seems like in Quebec you should really use maple syrup and honey since it's everywhere. There are so many kinds to choose from, though! Maybe the best idea is to find something you like and stick with it...but then you lose out on the fun of discovering a mix that could be even better...or drastically worse. You are one lucky person to have a mom who makes granola like it's second nature, though.
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