I really like having a batch of granola around the house for snacking, and topping off yogurts and ice cream. I almost always use my recipe for Mix-n-Match Applesauce Granola. As the name suggests, it’s a versatile recipe that you can use many different kinds of flavors in, changing the nuts, fruits and the spices to suit your mood and tastebuds every time you make a batch. Another reason I like it is that there is no added fat in the granola itself; it uses applesauce to create clumps of oats and the resulting granola still manages to be crunchy. This means that I can load up on nuts and other goodies but keep the granola s a relatively healthy snack.
For this batch, I made Coconut Almond Granola. The basic elements are all still there – oats, puffed rice cereal (for lightness), brown sugar, applesauce and maple syrup – and I added in lots of sweetened shredded coconut and some almonds. The granola is baked at a low temperature, so the the coconut and the almonds don’t toast up faster than the rest of the granola and can be put into the oven with the rest of the batch. While you can simply add nuts in at the end if you already have toasted almonds around the kitchen (toasting them twice might lead to burning), too, it’s just a little bit nicer to be able to mix them in with the granola base, so there will be both coconut and almonds in all of the crunchy clusters of oats.
I didn’t mix in any dried fruit with this batch of granola, but you could certainly add dried cranberries to the mixture after it has completely cooled. I also think that chocolate chips might be a good addition if you’re thinking about going a little more decadent with the whole thing. Otherwise, just enjoy the crisp, coconutty goodness by the handful – which is what I did.
Coconut Almond Granola
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup sliced of slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet (or two smaller sheets) with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed rice cereal, and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, applesauce (do not use chunky applesauce), maple syrup and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients along with shredded coconut and almonds and stir to combine. Spread on prepared baking sheet(s) in an even layer.
Bake for 30 minutes, then turn over the granola carefully using a large wide spatula, and bake for additional 15 minutes, until crisp and golden. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, the center might not be fully dried if your granola layer is thick, so if necessary remove the edges of the cooked granola to a cooling rack and let the rest cook for another 10-15 minutes until done.
Cool on pan or on a wire rack.
Note: If you can buy already toasted almonds, don’t stir them in with the rest of the ingredients before baking. Just reserve them and stir them into the rest of the granola once it has been baked.
Break granola up as desired and stir in dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 8 servings, more depending on add-ins.