Saturday, January 3, 2015

Coconut Granula

No white food? Tell that to the currently coconut-crazed food world. Thinking about using up my giant pillow-sized bag of Costco coconut…I shake my head no at tempting visions of macaroons, and instead make granola.  I've made various iterations of it for years, not so much cause I like to eat it— but because my husband does. And the house smells good when it's in the oven.
There are gazillion ways to do it; my version is sort of a mashup of old-school Harrowsmith/Moosewood cookbooks and modern-day Smitten Kitchen. (She also has a very nice recipe for a sort of reverse-granola;  nuts with beaten egg white and a pulverized granola coating.)

My version is nut-heavy, and light on the dried fruit. Knowing now what I never knew back then about glycemic indexes and other such tedious dietary topics; I've also dialed back the sugar, honey, maple syrup or molasses from a cup or more in the good old days—to about 1/4 cup sweetener per 5-6 cups rolled oats. Fat—about the same; 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil with ghee is good. And, to give it a bit of that nice sticky quality, I always melt a couple of tablespoons of nut butter into the warm oil.  Also, a tablespoon of either coconut flour or dried milk powder tossed in as you mix it all together boosts the sticky factor nicely. So. To sum up. 

Granula…my way

5-6 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup brown sugar, plus your choice of: honey, maple syrup or molasses, about 2 heaping tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flaked quinoa (optional),1/2 cup ground flax seed (or substitute wheat germ if you are reliving 1972. "Quinoa? Flax? what the—huh?")
1 cup coconut (pre-toast lightly in oven—don't skip this step!)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
2 generous tablespoons peanut or almond butter
1 and a half cups of assorted nuts: flaked or slivered almonds, hazelnuts, pecan pieces, walnuts or pepitas
1/3 cup raisins, cranberries, dates or dried cherries
Optional flavorings: 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract (or all 3!)
1 tablespoon coconut flour or dry milk powder

Pre-toast coconut and nuts/seeds. Just enough to freshen them up and give the coconut a hint of blonde. Set aside to cool.
If your oil is solid, melt it in a heat proof container large enough to add the sweeteners, plus the nut butter.(You'll need room for fairly vigorous stirring)
Toss dried milk powder or coconut flour over the oats in a large bowl. Drizzle the still-warm oil, sweetener, nut butter emulsion over top. Stir with spoon or mix with your hands.
!Don't add the coconut or dried fruit yet! And don't wash the big bowl, you'll need it again.
When oats and emulsion are nicely mixed; spread thinly on the biggest sheet pan you've got. You don't want it crowded because it'll be messy when you stir, and takes longer to achieve desired texture.
Bake 250 to 300 degrees. After 15 minutes to half an hour, stir, bringing the outer edges of the mix to the middle. Back into the oven for 15 minutes to half hour. Keep an eye on it; when you start getting that toasty colour, it will only need a few minutes more. Pour toasted mixture back into mixing bowl when cool enough to handle, then add coconut, dried fruit and ground flaxseed. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. 
Let cool completely before storing in jars. And to keep that crunch intact; store your granola in the freezer. It's delish.

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