Bake the Book: Toasted Coconut Granola

[Photograph: Steve Legato]

It may seem counterproductive to make your own granola when it's so easy to buy, but this recipe from Irish Pantry will soon have you seeing the error of your ways. For one thing, homemade granola is highly customizable. You can adjust the sweetness to your liking, and add any number of fruits, nuts, and spices. Furthermore, mixing up a huge batch means you have something to snack on for days on end. Here, coconut flakes and chopped cashews are used to give warm, toasty flavor to lightly sweetened oats.

Tips: The main draw of this granola is the crunchy, chewy toasted coconut. Keep a close eye on it as it toasts; it can over-brown rather quickly and introduce an unpleasant burnt flavor to the final product. I preferred using thicker coconut flakes, but regular or finely shredded coconut flakes will work as well. The rest of the process is fairly simple; just warm the honey, oil, and extracts, then pour over a pan of oats, toasted coconut, and chopped cashews. A long-handled wooden spoon makes it easy to stir the granola from a cracked oven door; you'll have to turn the pan every ten minutes until everything's been nicely browned.

Tweaks: Instead of olive oil, which is called for to make the sweet coating for the oats and nuts, use coconut oil. It'll compound the effect of the toasted coconut, effectively flavoring every oat. Also, those of you who like fruit in their granola: the use of coconut oil makes it even more amenable to adding chopped dried mango, papaya, or pineapple. But be sure to add those in last, after the baked granola has cooled.

As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Irish Pantry to give away.

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