Monday, July 19, 2010

Maple Pecan Praline Granola

If you love Trader Joe's, like I do, you have probably tried their pecan praline granola.  It is divine.  But the bags are so very small and despite my best efforts to convince the kids it is made with bugs and snot, they love it, too.

Which means they eat all of mine.

Which means I don't get any.

Which means I don't buy it.

Because, well, for almost $3 a bag... I want at least a bowl!

So, I set out to make a copycat version.  I've tried this a few times and every time I'm thrilled with the results so I feel safe sharing it with you.  Today I nearly used an entire container of rolled oats.

Sidebar about oats:  I've read that oats and wheat are either grown or processed together and a true gluten-free oat is nearly impossible to find.  However, we have yet to have a problem with oats.  Bob's Red Mill makes a gluten-free rolled oat, but it can be hard to find at times.  Looks like Amazon has it back in stock.  I buy regular old Quaker, YMMV.

I made two full sheet pans today.  I like to line the pans with my silpats because sometimes the sugars in it cook to hard crack stage in spots and that SUCKS to scrape off a sheet pan.   (That said, hot water running over the area will get it off.)

To make two sheet pans you will need:

10 cups of rolled oats
2.5 cups of chopped pecans (sometimes I just break halves with my hand so you can tell they're pecans)
2.5 cups of maple syrup (confession time: real maple syrup went up again.  I used mrs. butterworths - I know, I know - but it still worked!  So don't freak out if you can't afford the good stuff.)
2 cups unpacked brown sugar (I used a pyrex measuring cup and just left it airy and loose)
2/3 cup canola oil (or your favorite light oil)
1 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 300°.

Line baking sheets with silpats (or parchment might work, I suppose, but you're going to stir a few times and it may not want to hold up).

Mix it all up in the biggest bowl you can find.  (Mine are a set from Target that came in bright colors - the biggest is hot pink!  I love happy colors in the kitchen.)  Kids are GREAT at this recipe because it's all very preschool-friendly.

Divide the mixture evenly and spread out on the sheet pans.  (Those are mine - I love that draining/cooling rack and use it all the time - for everything from drizzling ganache over a cake to draining fried green tomatoes to cooling cookies.)  You want that lip that runs all the way around, though, or you'll have a HUGE burnt sugar mess in your oven.  

Don't have a sheet pan?  Divide the recipe and do it in a 9x13.  It should work just as well.

Set your timer for 15 minutes.  Stir.  Rotate the pans if you are using one oven (bottom to top and vice versa) so they get even heat distribution.  Smooth the granola back out and pop it back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

You're done when they look and smell delicious.  (Aka - about an hour)  So you will stir four times during this process.  

If it still looks gooey and pale when an hour is up, give it another fifteen minute cycle.

LET COOL BEFORE HANDLING unless you're a fugitive and don't want fingerprints anymore.

Bust it up into chunks and store in an airtight container.  My oldest and I love mixing craisins in just before pouring So Delicious Coconut Milk over the top.  Also great crumbled on top of yogurt with fresh fruit.