Friday, January 11, 2013

Pepita Granola with Dates and Molasses

This week saw the hottest day in Sydney since we've lived here, with a muggy high of 105F.  The next day it was back in the 70s, pleasant and breezy, even cool in the early morning.  So don't blame the blogger for today's post, homemade granola, when last week's was crispy salad.

I think of granola as a cold-weather comfort food, but maybe that's because I associate it with Colorado, which is, in my head, always covered in snow.  (I've spent time in Colorado in the summer, too, I just love the snow-covered mountain version).  But really, a handful of granola over yogurt or with cold milk is as appropriate in an Australian heat wave as anything else.  Northern and southern hemisphere readers alike should make this one to have on hand no matter what the weather is like where you are.  If you need any more convincing, add up the cost of the ingredients you use and compare it with the price of store-bought granola... such a deal.
pepita granola with dates and molasses @ Southern Spoon
toasted granola goodness with pepitas, dates, chia seeds, sweetened with molasses and dates
My sister-in-law makes a legendary granola, which I've heard about many times but haven't yet had the privilege to sample.  Today I adapted the recipe out of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook she gave me for Christmas.  I'm sure the original recipe with walnuts and dried cherries would rock, but this version with pepitas and chopped dates is delicious.

Play around with the recipe and substitute any combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for what's called for.  I didn't have maple syrup, so I used rice syrup and a little molasses its place-- the amount is perfect, not very sweet and just right with the dried fruit.  I also added dashes of allspice, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg in addition to the cinnamon-- I have trouble sticking to only one spice in a recipe. For a gluten-free version, ensure your oats are gluten-free, and substitute ground flaxseed for the toasted wheat germ.  Looking forward to munching on this throughout the week.

Pepita Granola with Dates and Molasses
lightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
makes 7 cups

3 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking; make sure gluten-free if necessary)
1/4 cup wheat germ, toasted (or ground flaxseed for gluten-free)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), coursely chopped
1 cup flaked coconut (unsweetened)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash each of ground nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger (or any combination of warm spices that suits your fancy)
pinch of freshly ground sea salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use rice bran oil)
1/3 cup rice syrup or agave syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg white
1 1/4 cups coursely chopped dates

Combine first eleven ingredients together in a large bowl (through molasses). Keep stirring until the oil, rice syrup, and molasses are as evenly distributed as possible.

In a small bowl, whip the egg white with a whisk or fork until white and foamy.  Pour the foamy egg white into the granola mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.

Scatter the mixture onto a large baking tray lined with parchment paper (baking paper).  Bake at 300F/150C for 40-50 minutes, carefully turning the mixture over halfway through with a wide spatula. Remove from oven when lightly browned.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the chopped dates, breaking the granola into chunks of your preferred size.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks.

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