Wednesday, December 5, 2012

caramel apple granola






It's December and life is officially crazy, but the craziness is for wonderful reasons, really.  There is something about a little Harry Conick, Jr. holiday music and Charlie Brown Christmas lights that makes the craziness easier to handle.

I totally love Christmas.

Cooking during this season is nothing short of delightful to me.  At the very same time, it's maddening to not have enough time to try the vast number of recipes that grace the covers of magazines, blog posts, and treasured cookbooks collected over the years.  I always promise myself to start the "taste-testing" earlier in the year, but like so many plans made... well... you know.

This recipe produces a wonderful result... the tastiest granola I think I've ever had.  Considering the flavor combo, one would think it should have been posted in the heart of Fall, but I chose to share it now because I think it would make a perfect homemade gift for the holidays.  I am still trying to nail down how to package it, and the accompanying items, but it's definitely going in the basket of goodies.

Please note that when you pour the homemade caramel (I know... delicious!) over the granola, work fast.  I did splash a tad of water into the bowl just after adding to make the stirring a little easier and ensure full coverage.

I hope to be back sooner than later.  I'm working to fit it all in.  I'm also working to remember that during the hectic season, craziness or not, each day is one the Lord has made... rejoice with me!

Caramel Apple Granola - 
makes approximately 4 cups
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup dried apples, cut into small pieces and lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 3 tbsp. butter
~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
~ In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, spices, salt, and dried apples. 
    Set aside.
~ In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. 
~ Scrape down sides of pan and let sugar boil over medium high heat, without stirring, 
    until sugar reaches a golden amber color If the sugar becomes too dark, it may turn the 
    caramel bitter. 
~ Remove from heat and immediately add the butter, stirring until melted and smooth.
~ Pour the caramel over the oat mixture and quickly stir to coat evenly (this is where I  
    added the water). 
~ Spread granola evenly onto a baking pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, stirring 
    occasionally, until the granola is golden in color (if the caramel begins to darken too 
    quickly, remove the granola from the oven to prevent further darkening). 
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving or storing.

Recipe from The Pastry Affair.