Hello everyone! That's right, I have returned from my trip to Trinidad & Tobago. What an incredible time. If only it could have lasted longer. Before I share all my foodie stories and photos from my trip, I have one more recipe to share. I made granola for my mom for Mother's Day, personalizing it with some of her favourite ingredients. She told me that she loved it. Edible gifts are the best and what could be better than a healthy, edible gift made especially for someone. I didn't want to post this before Mother's Day in case my mom saw it, and I was away on vacation all last week. So though it's late in publishing, here it is.
I basically ripped off this recipe from Chef John of foodwishes. You can check out the original recipe here. Chef John originally made this as a Christmas granola, but it would be perfect for any occasion, special or not. He took red m&m's, cut them in half with a chef knife and threw them into the mix to make it more festive. The first time I saw this recipe, I knew I would make it for mother's day because red is my mom's all-time favourite colour and I really thought she'd enjoy it (and she did).
Like most of the recipes you'll find on the blog, this is very versatile. You can add or remove as many things as you like. The only real difference between Chef John's granola and mine is that he used sliced almonds where I used chopped almonds and added cardamom (cinnamon would also work here). So I encourage you to check out the foodwishes link. There's a video and Chef John is very entertaining. I'll take this opportunity to thank him for sharing such a great recipe for me to basically plagiarize and steal. You're the best, Chef John!
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup candy covered chocolate pieces, halved
1 cardamom pod, crushed
Let's talk about the m&m's for a second...
Obviously you can choose any colours you want, or keep it multicoloured. I have a bulk foods store in my neighbourhood that has m&m's in bulk so it was easy for me to get exclusively red ones. The brightness of colour makes for a much more presentable granola. It's completely optional though. My knife skills are good but it still took me about 20-25 minutes to chop 1/2 cup of m&m's in half. A great yet less colourful cheat would be to just add half a cup of chocolate chips. Just make sure that your granola cools before you add the chocolate or it will melt and make a mess. Obviously the healthiest option would be to leave out candy and chocolate entirely. This is just a special treat.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (or 163 C).
First, add the rolled oats, almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds and salt to a large bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Make the syrup in a small saucepan by combining the brown sugar, maple syrup, canola oil and the crushed cardamom. If you decide to use the cardamom, be sure to crush it because the syrup takes very little time to cook and you want to give the spice a chance to perfume the syrup.
Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat while mixing constantly. Let it boil for about 30 seconds. It will look something like this:
Remove from heat, safely remove the cardamom pod (very important) with a spoon and pour over your granola mixture.
Mix until thoroughly combined. You want everything to be lightly coated in the syrup.
Foil a baking tray and lightly cover with oil. If you have a non-stick baking tray or one of those fancy, French Silpats use that instead. Spread the granola in an even layer over the sheet. Use a rubber spatula to spread everything out.
Place in the middle of your preheated oven and let it toast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and give everything a stir. The granola will begin to brown on the outside first so be sure to bring the granola from the outside inward when you stir. Then place back in the oven. You want to repeat this process until it's toasted to your liking. Chef John recommends toasting for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10. That's what I did and I felt it was perfect. When the oats and coconut turn a nice golden brown you are done cooking.
When the granola is golden to your liking, add all the dried fruit and stir to combine. For esthetic purposes of the blog, I sprinkled the dried fruit over the tray. If you try to stir this on the tray you'll likely make a mess. So I recommend dumping the granola and fruit into a bowl and mixing it then.
By the time everything is mixed, it should have cooled down quite a bit. If in doubt, let it sit for an extra minute or two. The next step is adding the candied chocolate. If you decide to go without the candy/chocolate, then you're already done. Just make sure that if you do add chocolate it doesn't melt all over the granola. As nice as it may sound, it won't be later.
Now you have the perfect homemade granola! Whether you make this for someone special, a special event or even just yourself - I promise you're going to love it. It's great to snack on as is, eaten as cereal with cold milk poured over it or served with yogurt and fresh fruit. Breakfast will never be the same, I promise.