Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Granola Experiment

The challenge -- Apple Cinnamon Granola and Tropical Granola. The hypothesis assumes that two very different granolas can be made from the same base recipe (a FoodNetwork.com favorite).

Here are the formula variations as I created them:

Formula 1 -- Apple Cinnamon Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
1 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Penzey's baking spice
1 cup dried apples, cut up
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar and spices. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. (I usually cook it longer to bring out more toasted flavor. Your mileage may vary.) Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add apples and raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Formula 2 -- Tropical Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1-1/2 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup pineapple syrup
1/2 cup crushed pineapple 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried Sunsweet Mangoes, chopped
1 cup dried banana chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. With a can of crushed pineapple in syrup, drain the syrup from the can so that you have 1/2 cup of pineapple syrup. Then measure out 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple. Combine the pineapple syrup and solids with the oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for approximatelyl 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add fruit and mix until evenly distributed.

Conclusion
While both formulas exhibit a pleasing taste and a good amount of crunch, the tropical granola is by far the crowd favorite. Future experiments would have me altering the forumulas in this manner:

Formula 1: adding much more cinnamon and using a crunchy apple chip rather than the Nerf-like apple chunks often found in dried apples.

Formula 2: I'm not sure that the pineapple syrup really adds any additional tropical flair. I would, alternatively, opt for a dried pineapple chunks to be added as with the other fruits. Oh, also, I think putting in some additional un-cooked coconut may also bump up the tropical tastiness.

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