how do i choose?

Once, when going out to brunch, a friend proposed getting an order of waffles for the table, as an appetizer. It provided a novel solution to the constant war of breakfast: the choice between sweet and savory. Unfortunately, her solution was more of an fix for the moment than the problem.

A mad desire to 'have it all' informed my variations to a Cooks' Illustrated granola recipe. For starters I needed to reduce the sugar. As much as I like the idea of candy for breakfast, there's only so much sweet I can consume on a given weekday morning. The solution was to swap out their christmasy cinnamon and vanilla for a mild indian curry and some garam masala. With this heat, I could cut down on the sweet.

½ cup olive (or neutral) oil
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅓ brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs indian curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 cups raw cashew pieces
5 cups rolled oats
2 cups dried currants
1 cup toasted coconut chips (if that's your thing)

easy wins
This is, truly, dead easy to make. First, Preheat the oven to 325˚.

In a large bowl, whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar and oil together. Stir in the salt and spices. Then, with a rubber spatula fold in the nuts and oats. I usually lay the nuts down in a layer over the syrup mix, then add the oats, just so the oats don't soak up the liquid while i'm fussing about. Work it until the oats seem evenly covered.

Pour the whole thing out on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your spatula to smooth out the top and compact the oats down. This way, when it comes out of the oven, it will resemble a big old granola bar. Bake it for 45 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan once, half way through. Let it cool for 30 minutes or so. Break your big granola bar into clusters and toss it with the currants and coconut chips. Store in a tupperware in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Serve frequently with yogurt, milk or ricotta.

easy mistakes
Let's take a moment to learn from some of my mistakes.

  • Unless you have a convection oven, don't forget to rotate the granola half way through baking, or it'll come out half burnt, half parbaked.
  • Don't try substituting the parchment paper with wax paper. No. Really, don't.
  • As an admitted salt-addict, I tried substituting raw cashews with roasted, salted ones. They burnt.
  • For the similar reasons, don't bake the dried fruit, add it in at the end, unless you really like chewing.