Monday, February 6, 2012

Can't catch me...


I'm not sure when I became so fond of the flavor of ginger.  My favorite cookies are these Double Ginger Crackles.  While I don't like the flavor of cinnamon with chocolate, ginger is okay.  I like visiting my family in the northeast, because I can get individual bottles of ginger ale (near impossible to find around here, since people drink icky Dr. Pepper instead).  My favorite chai tea is heavy on the ginger flavor.  I've been thinking about making my own crystallized ginger, but haven't found the time yet.

I wasn't sure whether I should do this post, since I had one about granola last month.  But as my friend Phyl put it, "It's gingerbread. It's granola. Of course it deserves its own post!"  I have a tendency to become slightly obsessed with a food and make it repeatedly, in different variations.  (See Jeni's ice cream. =) )  That seems to be the case with granola right now.  Eventually I'll go back and make my favorites again, but right now I'm having fun trying out different flavor combinations.


Since I've made granola a couple times now, I was comfortable with the process.  The only thing I needed to figure out was how I wanted to change it up.  Even when I first made the granola recipe, I debated whether to use the honey, since I'm not a big honey person.  My usual substitution is to use golden syrup in its place.  But I tried the recipe as written, and it was okay.  For the second batch, I used maple syrup, and I really enjoyed that batch and will definitely make it again.  My next thought was to play around with the spices.  I didn't want them competing with the maple, so I decided this would be the time to try golden syrup.  Then I had the idea to make a gingerbread version of the granola.  I added a bunch of ground ginger to the dry ingredients, increased the cinnamon a bit, and also added a bit of cloves and nutmeg.  Since most gingerbread recipes incorporate molasses, I ended up going with a tablespoon of mild molasses and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup.

Once the granola was in the oven and nearing the end of the baking time, I could tell I'd have a winner--it smelled amazing.  Once it was out of the oven, I couldn't resist sampling it while it was still warm, but also wanted to try the granola again once it cooled so I could see what the final flavor would be like.  I could taste the ginger, but was in the mood for more.  I ended up finely dicing some crystallized ginger and adding it along with the dried fruit.


The verdict?  When I tasted the granola the next morning, the ginger flavor was definitely more prominent, thanks to the chewy bits of candied ginger.  If you don't like a really strong ginger flavor, you might want to leave it out.  Overall, I'm really happy with the way the granola turned out.  I think the amount of molasses was just right (I didn't want it to be overpowering) and I like the combination of spices that I used.  I encourage you to play around and figure out what's right for your taste!  Here's my version if you'd like to try it.

Gingerbread Granola
(adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures)

4 cups (340 grams) rolled oats
1 cup (115 grams) pecans, broken into pieces
1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/3 cup (70 grams) canola oil
1 tablespoon (20 grams) mild molasses
3 tablespoons (60 grams) golden syrup
2 tablespoons (25 grams) vanilla sugar (or plain granulated sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous 1 cup (125 grams) dried cranberries
2 - 3 tablespoons finely diced crystallized ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 300ยบ F. Line a rimmed 13" x 18" baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the oats, pecans, brown sugar, salt and spices in a large heatproof bowl and stir to combine.  Put the oil, molasses, golden syrup, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan.  Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla extract. Pour the hot oil mixture over the oat mixture and use a rubber spatula (or dough whisk) to mix until the ingredients are well combined.

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Let the granola cool then add the dried cranberries and crystallized ginger (if using) and stir to incorporate. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 8 cups.

8 comments:

  1. I've made granola several times and always enjoy experimenting also. Your gingerbread variation sounds like a winner!

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  2. gingerbread granola sounds like a winner! I've been wanting to make granola again. I haven't in awhile.

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  3. Love the idea of gingerbread granola, and that picture of your little gingerbread guy is just too cute! The last time you posted about granola, I had to dig out my last batch from the freezer...it's all gone now, but your granola looks so good....guess that means I'll have to make a batch tonight! ;)

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  4. Since granola and ginger are two of my favorite things I think I need to try this recipe soon.

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  5. Oh, I'm going to have to try this. It sounds so good, and no store bought granola is as good as the stuff you make. Maple syrup sounds like the way to go.

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  6. This one wasn't as big a winner for me as the vanilla one, but maybe your adaptation would be more up my alley!

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  7. This looks so good! Thanks for giving into peer pressure and posting this recipe. I'm going to try it soon!!

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