Sweet Heat Maple Granola
I heard a story on NPR last week that cereal sales were on the decline because, now get this, it’s too much work for people to make it in the mornings.
Pouring a bowl of cereal and the milk and then washing all the dishes is just, reportedly, too much work.
Personally, I think, and hope, that that report is completely wrong. I know Americans get a bad rap for being lazy, but I really don’t think we are that lazy.
Instead, I hope cereal sales are on the decline because most people are starting to realize that most cereals are crappy ways to start the day. They are either bland or sugar-packed and fairly expensive. With all the options available these days (from yogurts to granolas), I just think people are getting wise on cereal.
I dreamt up this recipe last week for Maple Granola and immediately fell in love with it for breakfast. You can easily toss together a big batch of it on a lazy Sunday and have breakfasts for the whole week.
Don’t be lazy! Eat good breakfasts!
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and cayenne. If coconut oil is solid, microwave on high in 20 second bursts to melt coconut oil. Stir mixture together well.
2) Chop nuts roughly and toss with rolled oats in a large bowl. Pour syrup mixture over the oats and stir to combine completely.
3) Spread granola out on a large baking sheet. Bake granola at 300 degrees F. for 35-45 minutes, stirring it every 15 minutes or so to ensure it’s cooking evenly and not burning.
4) When granola is baked, it should be mostly dry and browned slightly. Then add dried apples and let it cool completely.
Stir granola in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit!
The Maple Mix
I go back and forth on whether or not I like oil in my granola. It does help the granola clump a bit, but it doesn’t add a ton in the flavor department. Not true though if you use coconut oil! This stuff has lots of flavor and will also help the granola stick together some.
If your coconut oil is solid, you’ll want to microwave the oil in quick (20 second) bursts until it melts and then you can stir in the vanilla and cayenne pepper also.
I realize that 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper is sort of an insane amount for one recipe, but trust me that it gets completely mellowed in the syrup. You get just a subtle spice in the back of your throat in the final granola.
To be honest, I chose nuts for this recipe that I had in my pantry and I suggest you do the same. The nuts I went with (cashews and walnuts) do go well with maple but almost any nut would I think. Get creative, but try to leave the ratio the same. You want at least a cup of nuts no matter what you end up using.
Stir your nuts into the oats and then pour in all that lovely maple mixture. It’ll look like a lot and the mixture will be a bit wet, but that’s fine. It’ll bake off and infuse into the granola beautifully.
Baking the Granola
Try to spread out your Maple Granola on a large baking sheet. Some overlap is fine, but you don’t want a big mound of granola. A layer is better.
The granola will need to bake for around 40-45 minutes at a low 300 degrees F. Be sure to check on the granola and stir it every 10-15 minutes as it bakes. If your oven is running hot (a common problem) the granola will start to burn if you don’t keep an eye on it.
When the granola is done, it’ll be lightly toasted and dry. It shouldn’t be sticky at all. Then you can add the diced apples. You could use other dried fruits but apples and maple were made for each other.
Dried apples are usually pretty cheap and come in rings. Just chop them up so they fold into the granola easier.
You could serve this granola with yogurt, bake it into bars, or just eat it by the handful.
For me though, I like it in a bowl with milk even though that’s apparently a lot of work!
Don’t be lazy about breakfast.
Get the day started with a sweet heat kick in the mouth!