Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Granola from your slow cooker

Granola from your slow cooker
Easy way to make a family favorite

I enjoy making my own granola. I love mixing in my favorite nuts and adding sweet honey and brown sugar. Yum.

What I don’t like is worrying if I’m going to burn it when I cook it in the oven.

You basically have to babysit granola while it bakes — taking it out of the oven often and stirring it, being careful not to let it spill out of the pan when you stir. The stirring helps it bake evenly and keeps it from burning around the edges.

Granted, you still run the risk of burning granola in the slow cooker, and you need to stir it occasionally, but I think the burn risk is lower. You also don’t have to heat up the kitchen if you are using the slow cooker.

When I tried this recipe, I adapted one I had posted a few years ago made with almonds and pecans. It’s my favorite granola recipe. But for the slow cooker version I also added Rice Krispies and ground cinnamon, and I used applesauce instead of apple juice. I used coconut oil the first time I made this slow cooker recipe but used canola oil the second time; both versions were delicious.

Right away, as the granola started to warm, I knew I had made the right decision with the cinnamon because the kitchen smelled so good.

The little pieces of Rice Krispies got crunchy and almost burned. I wasn’t sure I’d add them when I made the recipe a second time, but my daughter really liked it that way, so I included them when I repeated the recipe Monday.

My problem with making this granola is the moisture that builds up in the slow cooker while the granola cooks. After I made it the first time, I was unhappy with the texture and ended up putting it in the oven for a few minutes to dry it out. But from reviews on other slow cooker granola recipes, I found that the best way to avoid excess moisture inside the crock is to leave the lid slightly ajar. If it doesn’t work by sliding over the lid a bit, then prop open the lid just a little with a spoon or rolled up piece of aluminum foil. I’ve done this with a number of slow cooker recipes to thicken a sauce or gravy.

Anna likes the granola with a fresh fruit and a little milk added in, so she doesn’t mind if it’s not real crunchy. I like it crunchy!

After your granola has cooled, add in dried fruit or even chocolate pieces if you’d like.

In addition to eating granola with milk and fruit, try this recipe with yogurt or ice cream or just eat it out of your hand for a snack.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810

Slow Cooker Granola 

4 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup Rice Krispies

3⁄4 cup chopped almonds (I used roasted almonds)

1⁄2 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄4 cup canola oil or coconut oil

1⁄2 cup honey

1⁄4 cup applesauce

Add all ingredients to slow cooker crock and stir to combine. Cook on low for around 3 hours, depending on your slow cooker. Stir several times while cooking and monitor if it’s cooking too fast. The first time I cooked this, I stirred every 30 minutes. The next time, I wasn’t at home, so it cooked without stirring the first 21⁄2 hours. Only a few pieces were too brown.

To avoid moisture build-up and soggy granola, prop open the slow cooker lid with a spoon or rolled up piece of aluminum foil or leave it ajar.

Once granola has cooked and cooled, add in dried fruit or chocolate chips if desired.

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