June 16, 2009

Almond Cherry Coconut Granola

5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw, whole almonds
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup pepitas (unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla


Slow cooker instructions:
Place the oats, honey, oil, vanilla, almonds and vanilla in a 4 quart slow cooker. Stir. Leave uncovered and turn on high. Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 20 to 30minutes. Reduce to low and add the coconut, pepitas and cherries. Continued to cook on low uncovered for about 4 hours, stirring every 20 or so minutes. The granola is done when it looks completely dry. Cool on baking sheets then store in an air tight container.

Oven instructions:
Preheat oven to 250. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but the dried cherries. Divide among 3 baking sheets and spread to a thin layer. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Pour it back into the bowl, and stir in the cherries. Allow to cool on baking sheets then store in an air tight container.

My thoughts:
I hadn't made granola before and frankly wasn't too sure I liked it but I thought I'd give it a shot. While the slow cooker method is longer, I liked it much better than baking the granola. It cooked really evenly without over browning or burning. In the oven granola has a tendency to brown unevenly and if you have an oven like mine, you really can't bake more than one tray at a time which takes it into the slow cooker time range anyway. What I did was start the granola going in the slow cooker, set my time to 20 minutes and only came back in the kitchen to stir.

As for the granola itself? It was the best I've ever had and my husband agrees. It isn't the super clumpy type of granola (to make that you'd love to more than double the amount of honey and oil I used) but it is perfect to top yogurt, eat as cereal or have on its own. It is lightly sweetened and the coconut and cherries add lots of flavor.

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