20 January 2008

Crunchy Granola the Kathleen Daelemans Way

My sister has me thinking about granola. Count me as one of those people who hates cereal with milk, but I do enjoy eating it as a snack sans milk. If the cereal is granola, then it must be extremely crunchy and not have a lot of fruit in it. I have a dirty little secret. I want my granola to taste exactly like the boxed stuff from Kellogg's. The Kellogg's Low Fat Granola without Raisins Cereal (sold in the lovely kiwi green box) is the apex of all things granola for me. I do break down and buy it for snacks at work occasionally, but like most things, I would prefer to make it at home.

So now L has me on this quest to find the perfect granola recipe. It turns out she has the same dirty little secret (maybe it is in our genes?). She started a whole thread on the CLBB about finding the perfect granola recipes. The thread inspired me to try out the Kathleen Daelemans recipe I remember seeing way back when on her FoodTV show Cooking Thin. My roommate, Erica, at the time bought her book - for all I know Erica made this granola when we were living together! So it only took about 7 years for it to come full-circle.

This is a very basic, low-fat recipe. I decided to make a half-batch, but the recipe below is for a full batch. I do know that this isn't my perfect recipe yet. However I do think it is a great start. J for one seems to really like it - I am going to experiment further and send some home with him. I think I could add a touch of fat to the recipe for a nicer "mouth-feel". So the next time I make this, I am going to add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil to the syrup mixture. I loved the flavor of pecans in this granola, but I didn't bother chopping them at all. Next time, I would like some smaller pieces of nuts - I am going to try slivered almonds for sure. I also might ponder throwing some dried cherries or cranberries in. I think I could handle the fruit in this granola. Lastly, I must point out that I think it is imperative to add the salt. It really perks up the flavors and allows the rich nuttiness of the granola to shine through.

As I fiddle with the recipe I will report back. Thanks to Hammster for pointing out the recipe!

Crunchy Granola Recipe courtesy Kathleen Daelemans

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups rolled oats
2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, or slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and reserve.
Combine brown sugar and water in a 4-cup microwave proof glass measuring cup or bowl. Place in microwave on high for 5 minutes and cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from microwave, add vanilla extract and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, and brown sugar syrup mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Spread the granola onto cookie sheets and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and crunchy.
When the mixture comes out of the oven, it is still very pliable. You may choose to add in dried fruit as a finishing touch at this time. When granola has cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

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