What's For Breakfast: Chai-Spiced Granola

O granola! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways ... You're sweet, you're savory, you give my breakfast crunch ... There are endless ways to make you, and once you know the general components, it's pretty hard to mess you up.

Case in point -- the latest granola recipe I tried out, which I think may be my new favorite. This granola recipe has the addition of Maldon sea salt, which gives it a little extra flavor oomph. I initially found the recipe in the book The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes, which I was paging through at our friends' house on New Year's Eve. (While we were roasting some coffee beans -- you know, as one does as part of their regular NYE festivities...) When I saw the recipe for granola, I knew I had to give it a whirl. I tweaked a few things, including subbing in some seven-grain flakes for half the rolled oats (I buy the seven-grain flakes in bulk at our local natural foods store) and adding in a few additional spices.

This granola requires low and slow cooking (about two hours in the oven) -- which makes it a perfect recipe to try out on a gloomy winter afternoon. I've found that this granola is excellent just for nibbling on as a snack on its own, as well as a great topping for Greek yogurt (my daily weekday breakfast).

Chai-Spiced Granola (printer-friendly version)
makes about 12-15 servings

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup filtered water
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups seven-grain flakes [or just double the rolled oats]
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon granulated orange zest [optional]
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
1/3 cup walnut oil [or use a neutral oil such as canola]
2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.
2. In a medium sauce pot, combine together the brown sugar and filtered water. While stirring constantly, cook over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a large bowl, add together the oats, seven-grain flakes, walnuts, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, cardamom, and sea salt.
4. Stir the walnut oil and vanilla extract into the cooled brown sugar mixture. Then pour it over the oat mixture. Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients together.
5. Spread the granola evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven and flip the granola over with a spatula. (Try to keep it in large chunks.)
7. Bake for an additional 60 minutes, or until the granola is dry.
8. Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool completely. Break the granola into small chunks and store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

 (adapted from a recipe in The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee)


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