Friday, June 25, 2010

Granola Taste Test

I made 4 batches of Granola today, all different recipes.  I do not like sesame seeds in my granola, so I always replaced that ingredient with flax seeds.  I also do not like sunflower seeds, so I replaced that with either almonds or chopped pecans. I always leave the fruit out for individual add-in when serving.

#1:  Valerie's Recipe:  The Perfect (Clumpy) Granola
Mix together in a large bowl:
4 cups (14 ounces) rolled oats
1/2 cup (2 ½ ounces) rice flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped nuts
1/2 cup (1 ½ ounces) coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a medium-size bowl, mix until smooth:
1/2 cup (6 ounces) honey
1/2 cup (4 ¾ ounces) peanut butter
1/2 cup (3 ½ ounces) oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix very thoroughly. Spread onto a big cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees in increments of 10 minutes. Check every 10 minutes but do NOT stir. If you make a double batch, switch your top and bottom baking sheets after each 10 mins. Bake until golden. (Mine took about 25-30 minutes--but it might take up to 40 minutes or so). Let cool completely and then turn onto a sheet(s) of wax paper. Break up the clumps as desired. Store in an airtight container.

RESULTS: You have to like peanut butter to like this granola. Luckily, I LOVE peanut butter, so I absolutely love this granola. This granola also had the best clumps! This was also my neighbor's favorite!

#2:  Homemade Granola (from a Macey's class)
3 cups regular rolled oats
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup sesame or flax seeds<
1 cup roughly chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
½ cup coconut
½ cup nonfat dry milk
½ cup water
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ cup vegetable oil
½ T. salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
¾ tsp. flavoring of your choice (almond, maple, coconut, etc.)

In a large bowl combine the oats, flour, seeds, dates, raisins, coconut, dry milk and nuts.  In a blender, mix the oil, salt, brown sugar, honey, water, vanilla and maple flavoring.  Pour mixture over oats and stir well.  Divide and place on 3 cookie sheets.  Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or longer if needed.  Stir 2-3 times during baking time to evenly dry granola, mixture should be still soft and moist when removed from the oven.  It will dry more when it is removed from the oven and cools off.  Place in a plastic container with a tight lid to store.

RESULTS: This was my least favorite recipe because it didn't have as much flavor as the other recipes, and it also made the most mess on my cookie sheet. Also, it took the longest to cook. But it did have more of a chewy texture, and because it had so much liquid to dry ingredients, it does make great granola bars (press them into pan, and then cut as soon as you remove from the oven) and granola bites (shape them into balls before cooking).

#3:  King Arthur's Maple Granola (altered slightly by me)
3 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup almonds, sliced or broken up
½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped or broken up
¼ tsp. salt
3/4 cup real maple syrup
6 T. vegetable oil
½ T. vanilla extract
½ tsp. maple flavoring
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, and salt in a very large bowl.  Mix well, In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil and vanilla.  Pour the syrup mixture over the dry mixture stirring and tossing until everything is very well combined; it’s probably easiest to do this with your hands.  Spread the granola over 2 large baking sheets with rims.  Your cleanup will be much easier if you line them with parchment paper.  Bake for 2 hours, stirring the mixture after 1 hour or so.  Remove the pans from the oven and let cool completely.  Transfer the granola to a large bowl and mix in the dried fruit.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

RESULTS: The slight alteration by me was adding 1/4 cup maple syrup (it originally called for 1/2 cup) because the mixture seemed a little dry. I also added the maple flavoring because I thought it needed just a little more "punch." It turned out fabulous! My neighbor voted for this one as her "close second" favorite.

#4:  Sister's Cafe My Favorite Granola
3 ¼ cups Oats (Old Fashioned or Quick—any combination)
1 ¼ cup white wheat flour-freshly ground if possible
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup flax seed (optional)
1 cup or more coarsely chopped almonds and/or pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter (I used 1/2 cup oil and 1 tsp. butter flavoring)
1/3 cup water
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
Preheat oven to 300. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, flax seed, coconut and nuts. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, and water and heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture together until smooth, and then stir in the salt, vanilla and spices. Pour mixture over the oats mixture and stir will to coat. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
Spread mixture on a large baking sheet, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between clumps for the hot air to circulate. Slide it into the middle of the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to break up the mixture into medium sized clumps. Return to the oven and bake again for 15 minutes before stirring again. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the granola is uniform golden brown and completely dry—this usually takes me about 45 minutes . Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

RESULTS: The cardamom and cinnamon in this granola give it a more "woodsy" flavor. The neighbor girl voted this one as her favorite. I think it tastes very similar to #3, and I really liked it.

I asked Jesse to vote, but he just kept trying each one and saying, "I like that one." And then he'd try the next one and say the same thing. So I'd say all the recipes are keepers, although I will probably find myself making #3 and #4 most often.


  1. Granola is one of my all-time favorite foods, so I'm excited to see the results of your taste test. Personally, I like to rotate between different recipes depending on my mood and what I'm planning on using the granola for. Overall, though, I tend to prefer clumpy granolas--they're rather cookie-like, but delicious!

  2. Thanks for posting the results! By the way, we've tried the clumpy granola recipe (#1) with almond butter instead of peanut butter and it tastes great that way, too.