Sunday, 29 September 2013

Christmas Craftalong #1 ~ Maple Pecan Granola

Granola is always on the menu for me at Christmas. It's one of those sneaky ought-to-be-healthy-but-really-isn't type of foods that I just love to indulge in. Although it can be eaten as is, just poured in a bowl and covered with creamy milk, I usually like to sprinkle mine over fruit and yoghurt. Or over ice-cream. Or poached pears and cream. Or baked banana. Or . . . well . . . you get the idea.

The recipe is super simple, and you will probably have a lot of the ingredients to hand. This will make approx. 600g, or just over a litre.

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup flaked almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C / Gas 4

Mix together the oats, coconut, almonds, pecans and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and syrup in a separate bowl until combined then pour over the dry mixture and stir well until thoroughly combined. Lightly grease a large sheet pan (12" x 14" ish) and pour the mixture in, spreading evenly. Bake for approx. 25 - 30 mins, stirring every five minutes or so, until it's a nice even golden brown. Stir the cranberries through for the last five minutes of cooking.

Remove the granola from the oven and leave to cool in the pan. Don't try to stir until it's completely cold, that way you should get a lovely clumpy texture. Store in an airtight container.

If you're not keen on Maple Syrup (or live in the UK where it's mad expensive) then honey makes a delicious alternative. You can also swap in any dried fruit you like. Try chopped dried apricots in place of cranberries, they go perfectly with honey and almonds.

Now to turn this from an indulgent treat into a luxurious gift all you need to do is tart up a large jar. You can buy a Kilner or Mason jar if you like, but I used a pretty jar I had around the house. You can decorate it however you like. I cut a circle of festive poinsettia fabric and tied it with a gold cord (this is easier if you secure the fabric with an elastic band first) but a rustic piece of burlap tied with a thick red or gold ribbon makes a lovely contrast. If you don't have any fabric, try some Christmas wrapping paper.

For the label I found a lovely vintage holly frame from a fabulous site called The Graphics Fairy which shares vintage images for crafters to use. A nice fancy font (or write it yourself if your handwriting is better than mine!) and a pretty hole punch and my label was done.

All food gifts are better made as near to Christmas as possible, but this should keep for about a month in an airtight container. If it lasts that long!

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