Granola: Because Sometimes Hippies are Just Right
My favorite thing about getting into cooking is that you slowly realize all food is prepared by people. I know this doesn’t seem like an earth-shattering revelation, but I’m serious. In this pre-packaged age, there are so many foods that I would never in a million years think about being cooked by people; I just assume they are magically produced by elves or something.
Granola definitely falls into this category for me. Like Rice Krispies, English Muffins or Pop Tarts, it’s just something that is there in the morning when I wake up, not something I might be able to cook.
That is of course, until I turned on Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode about oats. I don’t know exactly how I thought granola was made, but I was pretty sure it involved a Navajo spirit stick or the bark of a Joshua Tree or something like that. Lo and behold, granola isn’t made like that at all – it’s just toasted oats coated in sugar and some other crap – amazing!
This shocking news quickly slipped from my mind until I stumbled upon a recipe in Bon Appetit for Maple-Walnut Granola.
Now, the worst thing about getting into cooking is that you realize everything tasty is extremely bad for you. Bad as in even worse than you ever thought. I mean, granola – epitome of earthy healthiness, right. Wrong. Sugar, syrup, oil, etc… (This BA recipe at least uses egg whites instead of oil, and seems to work just fine.)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons maple extract
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup walnut halves, broken in half
1 cup dried cranberries
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously coat heavy large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stir 1/2 cup sugar and syrup in heavy small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing down sides with wet pastry brush. Pour into large bowl; cool to lukewarm. Whisk in egg whites, extracts, and spices. Add oats, nuts, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar; toss well.
Spread mixture in even layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes. Using metal spatula, turn granola over (bottom will be brown). Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle cranberries over; bake until dry, about 10 minutes longer. Cool granola completely in pan.
I followed the direction to a T, except cranberries are not really my thing (although I think golden raisins would be great in this).
I also added a few macadamia nuts (halved) and a heaping handful of sesame sticks. I am obsessed completely with these. I always buy a gigantic bag from the co-op and add them to cereal, ice cream, salads, anything – I think they might be the new pine nuts. Sometimes I even sprinkle them on a bagel with cream cheese and pretend they are truffles. OK, I’m weird. Anyway, homemade granola is delicious! End of story.