A quick warning: if you think you love cereal that comes from a box on the shelf and if you do not wish to be convinced otherwise, this is not the post for you. Come back tomorrow for a post that might make you drool, but at least it won’t put your relationship with your morning cereal in serious jeopardy.
Wow, you’re still reading? Well, you my friend, are brave. You might think I’m exaggerating. But I assure you that this granola is that good. My own break-up story with boxed cereal began this summer, when I uncharacteristically ordered yogurt and granola when we were at one of our favorite breakfast places (Vella Cafe, which is conveniently—and dangerously—located steps from our front door). Vella’s parfait featured a local granola that is somewhat of a Chicago celebrity: Milk and Honey Granola.
While I still don’t think any version of granola that I’ve concocted at home is quite as good Milk and Honey’s version, they’ve all been close. I’ve tried several different recipes, which—generally speaking—all contain some combination of oats (and sometimes coconut, wheat germ or bran); mixed nuts, fruits and seeds; at least one sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup); flavorings (like cinnamon or vanilla) and at least one fat (typically, a neutral vegetable oil like canola). Once I realized that the recipes were basically variations of the same theme, I created a recipe of my own that I adore.
More than the fact that homemade granola is endlessly customizable, I love that granola is a stunning example of the sum completely transcending its parts. And it will make your house smell unbelievably good and turn your breakfast into an exciting event. This granola is even special enough to package up in a beautiful bag or jar and ship across the country as a gift or unexpected treat. Tell me the last time you did that with your “favorite” boxed cereal.
(Click “more” for additional photos and the recipe)
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweeteend
3 tablespoons flax seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup toasted mixed nuts, chopped (I used pistachios and almonds here)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups mixed dried fruit (I used raisins and dried cherries and cranberries here)
Preheat the oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit. Stir well to incorporate.
Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out into an even layer. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the depth of goldenness you’re looking for), stirring every 10 minutes.