There is an excellent co-op bakery in Madison, WI called Nature's Bakery. They make some of the best granola I've ever had. Greg and I are in the habit of buying a couple bags of their Molasses-Almond Granola every time we visit Madison. Since it's a long winter, and there tends to be a belt of bad weather perpetually lashed across the 4 hours between Madison and Champaign, the need to make our own granola was pressing. This was my attempt at making a Molasses-Almond Granola replica.
The result? Well, definitely not the same. For instance, it almost immediately discolored my milk (mmm, brown). That's not surprising, given how dark the granola itself is (yay, molasses!), but that's also different. I believe that the major difference is that Nature's Bakery must use a LOT less molasses in their recipe. This recipe is heavy on the molasses, which is a good thing if you like the flavor. If you're not as keen on molasses, I might suggest switching the measurements for the honey and molasses. As it stands, this may not be the prettiest dish, but it is a powerfully flavored, nutty, and intermittently sweet granola. And healthy, to boot!
Sweet Sassy Molassey Granola (by me!)
-3 cups rolled oats
-1 cup hulled sunflower seeds, unsalted
-1 1/2 cups raw whole almonds
-1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
-1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
-1 tablespoon brown sugar (you can increase this if you like a sweeter granola)
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/2 cup raisins
-1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped
1. Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, and almonds together in a large bowl.
2. In a heavy saucepan, add molasses, honey, vegetable oil, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously with a whisk. When all the sugar is dissolved and the oil is thoroughly combined, take off the heat.
3. Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients in 4 parts. Add some, mix well, then add some more. You're done once everything is very thoroughly combined.
4. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper, pour the granola out and spread in one even layer. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes, removing the sheet to stir the granola every 10 minutes. This is very important so that it doesn't burn! Even after 50-60 minutes, it will still feel sticky while you're stirring it. However, the test that it's done is when you allow the residual granola on the mixing spoon to sit for 30 seconds or so. If the granola is dry and hard on the spoon, then it's done.
5. Let granola cool for about an hour. Stir in the raisins and dates. Place in an airtight container and store.
-14 1/2-cup servings
-267 calories per serving, 11.8g fat, 38g carbs, 5.5g protein. Bonus: 16% of your dietary fiber and 11% iron! Plus, think of all that Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats from those almonds. :)