Most granola at the market tastes like oatmeal cookies!
This delicious recipe, without refined fat, will be a real hit if you carefully follow the directions. With experience, it will be oven-ready in 15 minutes.
¾ cup water
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon molasses, optional
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups pitted dates
1 cup walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, or almonds
13 cups old-fashioned oats (42-ounce carton Quaker Oats)
1-2 cups quick oats, as needed
½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, optional
1-2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or peanuts
Put water, honey, flavorings, dates, and 1 cup nuts in blender. Blend for about 1 minute until smooth.
This becomes quite thick, and you may need to help it blend by carefully stirring from the top with a rubber spatula while it blends.
Place oats and remaining ingredients (except quick oats) in a large mixing bowl. Add blended mix to the oats and gently mix together with your hands.
Keep tossing until all the oats look moist and there are no dry, whitish-colored oat flakes in the mix. Avoid the temptation to squeeze or knead the mix with your hands. You want to retain the shape of the oat flakes without pulverizing them. Plastic food-handling gloves are a great help.
If the mix is too wet, the finished granola will not be tender. If it is sticking to your hands or feels sticky, add an extra cup of quick oats and work them into the mix.
If you are using gloves, it will be the right consistency when it hardly sticks at all. I almost always need the extra oatmeal along with the 42-ounce carton of oats, but ingredients can vary, and experience will help you get the right balance of moisture every time. If your finished granola is hard and tough, you got it too wet. It is just right when there are some clumps that break apart easily, but it is not all powdery and dry.
Place mixture in two large cake pans or sheet pans that have sides, taking care not to pack or pat it down tightly. Keep it light and airy.
Place pans in oven at 175ºF for about 8 hours – no need to stir if it is baked slowly. If the temperature is too high, it will become dark brown or burned on top and uncooked underneath. When the uncooked part dries out, it will be tough and hard. Longer, slower cooking will result in an even, golden-brown product.
The right temperature is critical, so err on the low side or check it with an oven thermometer, since ovens vary greatly. A convection oven will usually give a more tender result.
Make about 24 cups.