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Thursday, July 21, 2011
Vanilla Scented Granola
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I have been wanting to make homemade granola for about the last forever. The reason it took me so long to actually make a batch? Self control (or my lack there of). I can't have a box of granola in the house for longer than 24 consecutive hours, no matter how hard I try. When I was studying abroad in Italy I became addicted to this amazing granola that had hazelnuts and milk chocolate chunks in it. I ate so much of it that I actually think that's why I started gaining weight (it certainly couldn't have been the pasta or gelato or red wine!)
Even though that was seven years ago *cringe* I still have a hard time stopping at one bowl.
To be fair, it usually starts out innocently enough...
"I'm going to buy granola and start having a healthy, filling breakfast!" I say to myself,
"I will pair it with yogurt or milk and add fruit too! Look at me, being all healthy and whatnot!"
And then somewhere between pouring the milk over the granola and taking that first crunchy bite the room goes fuzzy and dark and the next thing I know I am waking up to an empty granola box and crushed milk carton by my side. And I'm pretty sure thats not healthy (the eating-a-whole-box-of-granola thing, not the passing out thing).
Yet no matter how hard I try to distance myself from granola it always finds a way to sneak back into my thoughts. I finally decided that the only way I could get it off my brain would be to make a batch myself. I even reasoned to myself that if I made it myself I could at least control the ingredients and what it was made of (no yuckies!). Suddenly, the possibilities seemed endless - oh the granola I could make!
I could add almonds, hazelnuts or pecans!
I could add raisins or craisins or dried apricots or, hey why not, a little dried mango or pineapple!
I could add dark chocolate or milk chocolate - as little (err...) as I wanted!
But for my first time around, I decided to stick to the basics. I found a great recipe to use as a base for all future granola creations. It has vanilla and sliced almonds, and just a hint of cinnamon. Its perfect on its own, but the best part about it is how adaptable it is. You could fix it up any way that you liked, whatever your little heart desires!
This, my friends, is dangerous.
Vanilla Scented Granola
adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.com
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey (or agave nectar)
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract (go on, use the good stuff!)
- Preheat the oven to 300*F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease with nonstick cooking spray
- Combine the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a small pot heat together the vegetable oil, honey and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to evenly coat.
- Spread granola out on the cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. I baked mine for 30 minutes total, stirring after each 10 minute interval. After 30 minutes I turned off the oven, patted the granola down tight into the pan and put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cool, break up the granola into chunks, immediately shove a handful of it into your mouth and then store in an airtight container.
After my granola was done cooling I added chopped dried pears and small pieces of dark chocolate (72%). These additions are super yummy in this granola as they add another layer of flavors and texture but don't over power the delicate vanilla taste of the granola! What do you like to add in your granola? Tell me in the comments section!