Granola must be universally on the mind lately. For me, it’s a staple — something I cannot live without — and to confess, I have been known to eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and “bed time snack.” Two of my favorite food bloggers Béa and Nicky have just recently shared some of their favorite granola recipes that include one of my favorite food groups: chocolate.
This recipe, however, just keeps to fruits and nuts… and lots of vanilla. The creation was sort of an accident — I was making my usual granola recipe, and when I sought out my Mason jar of homemade vanilla extract, I found there was next to nothing left! Panic ensued, but after draining the dregs of the jar, I had just enough. I baked it, packed it up, and we headed out for a weekend with friends for some quality time in Boulder. At breakfast the next morning, I was thrilled to discover that adding the dregs of the vanilla jar had been an unconcious yet brillant addition. All of the vanilla seeds had settled to the bottom with the vanilla extract, giving the granola a luscious and comforting flavor.
I usually make granola with a mixture of dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries. But I used a Tahitian vanilla bean this time which has cherry notes, so using just dried cherries made sense. They turned out to be a nice compliment to each other, and now, we have something to fuel us morning, noon, and night.
Cherry & Vanilla Bean Granola
by Stephanie Kunstle
- 6 c. oats
- 1 c. coconut
- 1 c. wheat germ
- 1 c. oat bran (or substitute wheat bran)
- 1 c. ground flaxseed (meal)
- 2 c. sliced almonds
- 1 tsp. cinnamon (I use freshly ground Ceylon, but the standard variety will do)
- 2/3 c. regular olive oil
- 1 vanilla bean (I get mine here)
- 1 Tbsp. good quality vanilla extract
- 3/4 c. honey
- 1 and 1/2 c. dried cherries (feel free to substitute other dried fruits)
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- In a large baking pan (10 x 15 inch Pyrex, 2 inches deep), combine all dry ingredients EXCEPT the dried fruit.
- Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Add the bean and seeds to a small pot with the olive oil. Over medium flame, bring the oil to just bubbling. Turn off the heat and let it infuse for 5-10 minutes. Remove the bean, and whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the warm vanilla oil over the oat mixture, using a rubber scraper to get all the vanilla seeds out of the pot and into the oats! Mix the oil into the oats well.
- Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Gently heat the honey, and drizzle it over the granola, and mix well.
- Continue to bake for another 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, add the dried fruit and let the granola cool, stirring every few minutes to keep it from becoming a giant solid block. My suggestion: don’t miss the chance to eat it while it’s warm with some yogurt or milk (ok- cream works nicely too). Once it’s completely cool, store in an airtight container for as long as it lasts… which likely won’t be long!