Hello CocoFanciers! I’m Mikal and this is my first time posting on here. Those of you that read this (and don’t know either Candice or me personally) know me exclusively via anecdotes on Candice’s posts, and probably are not aware that I am an experienced cook. I’ve been making food most of my life, either with my parents or on my own and started really experimenting on my own when I was a teenager (and even went to school for it briefly), and I have a tendency to make food without using recipes. That isn’t to say I don’t use them at all. If I’m trying to make something specific that I’ve never made before, I’ll use one, but most of the time I just throw stuff together sans recipe.
One thing I’ve been making for a couple months now is granola. My first attempt at making it was for a yogurt, fruit, and granola dessert. Contrary to what I expected, Candice loved it and insisted that I make more. I’ve now had a couple months to make and perfect the guidelines for it and – what is an unusual task for me – write them down.
Now remember, these are guidelines. If you don’t like something I include, use something else. The key is to follow the outline and include the necessary ingredients. The goal for this granola is to make something that is slightly chewy, but has crispy and crunchy elements to it.
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped or sliced almonds
1 cup pepitas
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seed
1/2 – 2/3 cup syrup (your choice)
A large, flat pan – preferably a commercial aluminum baking sheet
A flat edged cooking utensil
Total cooking and preparation time: ~ 2 hours
Preheat oven to 250°F. Measure and equally spread three cups of rolled oats (quick oats are probably okay, but I prefer rolled oats) on the bottom of the pan (I prefer large, commercial, aluminum baking sheets. You can get them from Costco for just a few dollars each. They’re durable, and good at transferring heat to whatever is on them). I do this by sprinkling the oats out of the cup measure across the pan. Next spread your next ingredient over the oats. And the next. And the next. Until you’ve got all your dry ingredients layered in the pan. Hold the syrup until later. Now place your pan into the oven for 1.5 hours.
Put on some music, dance and sing. Watch Firefly. Plant a garden. Take a relaxing bath. Worried that you’ll forget about it and it’ll burn? Turn it down to 200°F and relax. You’ll have to wait longer, but you are less likely to burn it. The purpose of this step is exclusively to slowly heat and dry out your granola mix. So it’s ok to turn it down.
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Ok, take your granola out. Stir it around. Be sure to mix it nicely. Now flatten it back out by grabbing the edge of the pan and shaking it slightly. Or you can use your utensil. Whichever you prefer. It’s not my granola. You want to use a spatula? Go right ahead! I prefer the shake method. Much quicker. And a little fun, too.
Now that your granola mix is flat, grab your syrup (honey, maple, agave, corn syrup, strawberry, chocolate, the syrup from later in this post, or whatever else you prefer). Drizzle that delicious stuff across the mixture. I prefer a back and forth pattern with streams about one inch apart. Back and forth, side to side. But whatever you need to do to get it nicely covered, do that. Once you’ve done that, mix it around. No! Don’t use your hands! That mixture is hot! No, grab that utensil I told you about earlier. Yeah, the flat edged one. Yeah, that’s the one. Ok, stir it around. Mmmm, sticky. Now flatten it out again.
Done? Ok. Turn the oven temperature up to 350°F and place the pan back in. This time you’re going to cook it for 12-15 minutes. Don’t go too long or it’ll burn. Sugar burns quickly and easily, so watch it this time.
After it’s done, take it out. But don’t let it cool in the pan. That’s a bad idea. No, dump it out onto a 2 foot length of wax paper. Careful! You don’t want to spill it. Now you just let it cool. The longer it cools, the harder it gets. At some point, you’ll dump it into a container to store. We’ve been using a large ziplock freezer bag, because we don’t have reusable plastic containers that large. But whatever you have that’ll hold it is all you need.
Whew, that was a lot of text. Yes, I talk a lot. What of it? But wait, I’m not done! I have to tell you about the syrup.
The last two times I made this I used a lot of honey. Unfortunately, honey is rather expensive. Tasty, but expensive. So I decided to make my own syrup. Something that uses honey, but mixes in other ingredients to make the honey last longer. Well, that’s simple. Here’s what you need:
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Mix well with a large spoon of some sort. Place on a stove with a temperature somewhere around medium-low. Stir occasionally until it’s nice and syrupy-thick. This could take up to half an hour. Once done, take it off the heat and let it cool. Congratulations! You now have a syrup that tastes a bit like honey, isn’t as expensive, and will last longer for your granola! Enjoy!
One of the primary purposes of this granola is as a topping for yogurt (though we’ve also added it to muffins and pancakes). You can think of it as a yogurt parfait, but it’s not really necessary to layer it in the same way. What we typically do is get one 6 ounce cup of flavored greek yogurt (such as Brown Cow, and because it tastes better than regular yogurt), add one or two sliced, sugared strawberries and a handful of granola. And there you go! A delicious breakfast, snack, or any other time of the day food.