Gift Idea: DIY Granola

Christmas time is nearly coming to an end, so I should probably put my holiday posts at the top of my list of things to do.

I've been meaning to try out the art of making my own granola for a while now, but just never got to it. Now, after doing so and realizing how easy it is, I don't think I'll ever gravitate towards those tiny five-dollar boxes in the grocery store. Not only for flavor, but also for the reason that when I make it myself, I can control the ingredients that go into it.

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My first step to these creations was to brainstorm different flavor combinations keeping the season in mind. I came up with:

gingerbread-pecan-almond-sunflower-coconut-cranberry

chocolate-almond-orange-cherry

pumpkin spice-almond-pecan-pumpkin seed-chocolate-apple

banana-walnut-peanut-honey-chocolate
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With a few adjustments and the inspiration of buying an assortment of useful ingredients by the pound at the supermarket, I came up with these recipes using the basic formula that all granola recipes abide by:
3 cups grain 
1-1/2 cups nuts
1/2-3/4 cups sweetener
1/4-1/2 cup oil (or 1 egg white)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut
1-2 cups seeds
1 cup dried fruit (Added after baking)
1 teaspoon spices
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips
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Now, my recipes slightly drift from this formula, but not worries, they still produce the tastiest, freshest granola I've ever had. Into the jars they went, sealed with love, and given as a gift set to people I care about dearly. Everyone always says homemade gifts are the best kind, but homemade granola is the tastiest kind.



Allow me to hide my faults here:
I didn't quite make the perfect granola on my first go. 
I went through the whole routine of making gingerbread granola and threw it in the oven at 350 degrees (also without noticing that the thermometer on the inside of my oven read 375). If that wasn't setting me up for disaster enough, I neglected to stir my granola until 20 minutes in, opening my oven to an unevenly-extra crispy-burnt on the edges mess. So what did I do? Turn the oven down lower, stirred the granola, and put it back in the oven despite the fact that some of it was already burnt. Yea..as you can guess, I couldn't taste much gingerbread over the charcoal flavor of over-roasted pecans. 
This called for a re-do.
It took one major mess up, but on my second try, I screwed my head on straight and made up for my errors. And with that, came this flavorful, crispy granola that made my house smell like a nutty Christmas miracle.



 Gingerbread Granola
Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, spices, and salt. 
  3. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil. Stir in molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour into oat mixture and toss gently with a rubber spatula until fully combined. 
  4.  Spread the granola mixture onto the foil evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the nuts are toasted and oats are crunchy. (Keep in mind that granola will firm up more after cooling). Very important: stir granola after every 10 minutes of baking to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Pour into a large bowl and stir in dried cranberries. 
  7. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the fridge or freezer to prolong shelf-life. 

 Chocolate Cherry Granola
Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts, seeds, cocoa powder and salt. 
  3. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil. Stir in orange zest, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour into oat mixture and toss gently with a rubber spatula until fully combined. 
  4.  Spread the granola mixture onto the foil evenly.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the nuts are toasted and oats are crunchy. (Keep in mind that granola will firm up more after cooling). Very important: stir granola after every 10 minutes of baking to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Pour into a large bowl and stir in dried cherries and chocolate chips. 
  7. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the fridge or freezer to prolong shelf-life. 

 Pumpkin Spice Granola
Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apples
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts, seeds, spices, and salt. 
  3. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Pour into oat mixture and toss gently with a rubber spatula until fully combined. 
  4.  Spread the granola mixture onto the foil evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the nuts are toasted and oats are crunchy. (Keep in mind that granola will firm up more after cooling).  Very important: stir granola after every 10 minutes of baking to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Pour into a large bowl and stir in chocolate chips and dried apples.
  7. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the fridge or freezer to prolong shelf-life. 

 Banana Nut Granola
Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 cup banana chips, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, spices, and salt. 
  3. In a small bowl, melt the coconut oil with the banana and honey. Stir in vanilla. Pour into oat mixture and toss gently with a rubber spatula until fully combined. 
  4.  Spread the granola mixture onto the foil evenly.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the nuts are toasted and oats are crunchy. (Keep in mind that granola will firm up more after cooling). Very important: stir granola after every 10 minutes of baking to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Pour into a large bowl and stir in banana chips
  7. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the fridge or freezer to prolong shelf-life. 

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© A Little Baker
Maira Gall