On a recent trip to the farmer's market I got some granola that I consider to be perfect. I could live without the cashews, but otherwise it was the perfect brownness, salty-sweetness, had clusters, I could go on. I would just keep buying it but I consider $9/bag exhorbitant, or at least worth trying to recreate.
I googled and looked at other people's blogs for recipes. Ultimately I decided to let Alton Brown's recipe be my first try because he is so endearing and the ingredients matched up with the farmer's market stuff. One evening Steve and I sat out on the screen porch after putting Olivia to bed, had some wine and relaxed, smelled the honeysuckle and watched the fireflies. And every 15 minutes Steve would let me know (because I couldn't hear it) that the timer was going off and I went to stir the granola. Up until I put it in the oven I was confident that this was the right recipe, the one that would silence the granola voices in my head that were saying, "Maple syrup is not that expensive. Try it yourself."
The results were okay, but there were no clusters, the oats and almonds were browner than I would have liked, and it was a tad salty (I use whole salted almonds - too big). Nevertheless I ate it by the handful and was confident that I would no longer have to pay $9/bag.
I tried the same recipe again, this time chopping my almonds, cutting the salt, decreasing the cooking time, and not stirring at all. I got to relax while it baked, it was a better color and texture, and I got some beloved chunks. Now I can't stop eating it. Next time I'm going to add Craisins. (Update: I lied. I added chocolate chips the next time.)
Maple Nut Granola
(based on Alton Brown's recipe)
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped salted almonds
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup Craisins or raisins
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour/pat into 2 cookie sheets. Cook for 45-55 minutes. I don't stir mine because I like it to be clumpy.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add Craisins/raisins and mix until evenly distributed.