Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate & Coconut Granola - Crunchy And Delish!

Granola is a popular choice of breakfast or snack for a lot of us. This mix of oats, nuts, honey, oil or butter, dried fruit and additional flavoring is baked in a moderate or slow oven till crunchy or chewy according to personal preference. A decade ago or so, this was relatively not so well known, at least for those of us in India. But now with increasing health consciousness and the need for pre-made breakfast in our busy lives, granola, muesli and other cereals have found their place on our breakfast tables. Honestly, we are not a love-granola-for-breakfast family, we prefer the more substantial old fashioned things for the first meal of the day. Granola is something we enjoy as a snack rather than a meal. I have to be honest again and tell you, strange though it may seem, I have not bought granola from the store, so obviously not tasted it. Not out of prejudice, let me assure you, it somehow never made to my shopping cart, may be because it did not sound tempting enough and too expensive for that box?

But baking granola at home seemed like fun and I have baked granola a few times earlier, experimenting with varieties of oats and combinations of the ingredients. Somehow, though it was tasty and we (between me and my son, who eats it for dessert!) managed to polish it off quickly each time, I did not succeed in getting it crunchy - the biggest 'must' for me as a preference factor in granola. I tried baking with Quaker oats, the old fashioned rolled oats and even the jumbo breakfast oats. I have figured out that I like my granola baked with quick cooking oats, just about sweet, nutty and really crunchy. I don't enjoy eating granola with milk as much as do eating it as is,  as I feel it takes away the crunch and leaves it a tad chewy, something I don't really relish. My humongous sweet tooth is no big secret and I love the way popping a spoon or two of  the nutty, sweetish granola satisfies my sweet craving temporarily and without much guilt.

Baking granola is little effort, easy and less hands on time. I can add 'easy' to the adjectives as I now have a small stash of flaked almonds in my freezer. Since the only effort for us would be chopping or slicing almonds if using, if you can sacrifice that flaked almond bit for your pictures, you could just chop them roughly. My sister thankfully sent me some flaked almonds fearing I would cut my fingers a bit too much in my attempts to slice almonds. Thank you Sis, for making my baking life easier!!

Moving on, we mix the dry ingredients and the wet, put them on your tray, bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring the mixture once in every 15-20 minutes to ensure it gets baked evenly and doesn't get burnt during the prolonged baking time. The best thing about home-made granola is you can play around with the ingredients and flavors, control the amount of sweetness and amount and kind of fat that goes into it, making it healthier and tastier, cost effective too. But while doing this, make sure you maintain the dry-wet ingredient ratio in the recipe you choose. I prefer baking the oats, nuts, coconut etc and then add the dry fruits later after baking. One way of adding the liquid ingredients is to just mix them together and then add to the dry. The method in this recipe is boiling together all the liquid ingredients and then adding adding to the dry, something I have not done earlier in my granola experiments.

The Chocolate Granola on Deeba's PAB lured me into giving granola baking another try in my quest of crunchy granola and I am so so glad I tried this recipe. I got tasty, crunchy granola with some chocolate thrown in as well - just what I was looking for! As a bonus, as Deeba says, the high fiber content in the oats, the anti-oxidants in the nuts in combination with a topping of  low fat milk to make it a wholesome and complete meal.

I have done a minor bit of tweaking to the recipe, added some shredded coconut and saved the addition of the raisins to the end. I have halved the quantity in Deeba's recipe.  Here is what I did.

You can read Deeba's recipe here

Rolled oats - 1 3/4 cups {I have use Quaker oats, you use the thicker ones if you wish}
Almonds - slivered or chopped - 1/4 cup
Shredded, unsweetened coconut - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1/2 tablespoon (Deeba uses unsalted butter)
Light brown sugar - 1 tablespoon
Honey - 2 1/2 tablespoons
Water - 2 1/2 tablespoons
1 vanilla bean scraped, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Semi sweet chocolate chips - 1/4 cup
Raisins - 1/4 cup

Method: Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C / 350 degrees F (read note below).  Cover your baking tray or tin with parchment.  I have used a 9'' round tin, baked half of the recipe in this pan and another half in my OTG .

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients - the oats, coconut, almonds. Set the raisins and chocolate chips aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, honey, sugar, oil or butter, salt and vanilla bean / vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Stir in the liquid to the dry ingredients. The mixture at this point feels very soft.

Transfer the granola mixture to the baking sheet (make sure its in a single layer) and cook for 45 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every 15 minutes to make sure that the granola cooks evenly. Let cool completely. Transfer to a air-tight container and add the chocolate and raisins. Eat with chilled milk or yogurt.

A note on the Baking time and temperature :  I have baked this twice, the first time at 150 degrees. The mixture was beginning to brown too fast after 30 minutes (may be the layer was too thin?), so I lowered the temperature to 140 degrees the last 15 minutes of baking. The next time, I baked at 120 degrees C and it was baked perfectly in 45 minutes again. Whatever temperature you bake at, be sure to stir the mixture every 15 minutes, be really careful after half an hour and check more frequently as the mixture will go from toasted to burnt really soon. If baking in a dark colored pan reduce the oven temperature by 10 degrees C. I shall be baking this again and shall post any updates here.

 I finally got my granola delicious as well as crunchy, thanks so much Deeba for this wonderful recipe!!

Sending the granola to Smitha's Healthy Cooking Challenge, guest hosted by Priya, the theme is Healthy Bakes.


Indian Khana said...

Yum ...perfect way to start the day ....nice pics

Unknown said...

Bowl full of comfort...looks super yumm

chef and her kitchen said...

I would have been happy to get a pack of it from u..looks perfect wid choco chips..

Priya Suresh said...

I can have granola even everyday for my breakfast, love the addition of coconut,seriouly am loving this granola,cant wait to try..

Thanks for sending to HCC,Suma..

Archana said...

Very nice, didn't realise it was this simple, I like mine crunchy and without the milk !!

Jayashree said...

Just happened to come across your blog. You have a very beautiful & yummy blog.Thinking of taking baking classes from you the next time I visit Bangalore :)
Keep Rocking !

Divya Kudua said...

I've bookmarked this recipe from Deeba's blog too.I don't know when I can do justice to all those yummy recipes.You know I am so busy these days and the blog is suffering too.Got to buck up!!

Shubha said...

This looks really this the same as the granola bar we get?