I am a self-proclaimed snackaholic. I rarely, if ever, abide by the three-meals-a-day mantra. Unless a meal is so ridiculously filling that I end up eating only twice due to being completely stuffed, I always snack between meals. Sometimes I snack as a meal. My Chief Culinary Consultant and I recently purchased a treadmill for our basement, which I have been putting to great use. The problem I encounter, however, is that when I am done I’m still a little too sweaty to jump straight into the shower and I’m almost always starving. After days of grabbing some really random things before taking a shower, I decided to make a big batch of granola so that I could grab a handful or two to keep my hunger at bay until I get out of the shower and can eat a “real” meal.
I wanted a crunchy granola that I could break into big chunks. I finally discovered the granola recipe that I’ve been after for so long, and I might just eat the entire container in a couple day’s time.
First and foremost, I absolutely love the maple flavor of this granola. It’s not overpowering, but it’s certainly noticeable and is a perfect complement to the oats, almonds and dried fruit. I loved the idea of baking the almonds right into the oats so that they would adhere to the oats and become toasted as well. You can use whatever type of dried fruit that you like, but for a basic granola recipe, I typically default to dried cranberries and apricots. However, you can use any combination that you like.
I’m thrilled to have a homemade snack that I can easily grab by the fistful when I need a little something to tide me over until my next meal. It’s also perfect for throwing in a baggie and into my purse. You know, for any random time that I’m away from home and starving. It’s not a pretty sight ;-)
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk in the vegetable oil to combine. Add the oats and almonds and fold the mixture together with a rubber spatula until all of the oats and almonds are thoroughly coated.
Turn the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin, even layer. Using a stiff metal spatula, compress the oat mixture until very compact.
Bake until the top is lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Remove the granola from the oven and let cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break the cooled granola into pieces as large or as small as you like. Stir in the dried cranberries and dried apricots. The granola can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.