I can’t lie to you. Each holiday season, I play favorites. No, no! Not with my kids, silly. No, I end up embracing, loving, dreaming of and obsessing over the one treat or food gift that has stolen my heart and that I want to give to everyone. Even amid all the thousands of decadent holiday treat and food ideas swirling around to tempt me, there is always one that stands out. No contest, this granola and yogurt has won. Easily. While granola may not make your heart go pitter-patter with holiday gluttonous (the likes of which is astounding around the internet this time of year), I think I have officially declared it my favorite holiday gift this year especially when gifted with a jar of luxurious, thick homemade coconut yogurt. It’s unique and refreshing and healthier than caramel-coated-double-chocolate-fudge-filled-candy-cane-brownie-bark. That isn’t to say I won’t be bombarding you with all sorts of naughty treats the rest of the week, but still, for the record, this is healthy-ish.
Personally, I’ve been eating this granola on my yogurt every single morning for the past month, no exaggeration, pinkie swear. It is amazing. A perfect balance of salty and sweet, it is completely divine with creamy yogurt and just about perfect for independent snacking. Between coworkers, friends, neighbors, teachers, UPS delivery guys (we are BFF’s thanks to Amazon Prime), at least a few people on my list are getting some of this granola and yogurt. I won’t be able to live with myself if they don’t. Of course, if you don’t want to go to the work of making your own yogurt, buying a tub of good-quality, tasty yogurt would work just fine to go along with the star of the show: the salty sweet granola.
Many of you already love and use another favorite granola recipe of mine. It’s incredible and you could obviously use and package that one up instead/also, but this granola is definitely worth a try. It has a completely different flavor profile with the olive oil and different types of nuts, plus it is cooked at a higher heat for much less time (the nuts and coconut are brilliantly added toward the end of baking time to ensure they don’t burn). I hate to play favorites, but this is definitely my go-to granola right now. When it first came out of the oven, I wasn’t sure about the strong aroma from the olive oil and the salty bite – but after it sits for a day, the flavors meld and subdue and it is wonderful (plus I cut the salt down just a tad, too).
Granola and yogurt may not be the most exciting “treat” in the world when faced with cookies and cakes and brownies, but I promise it’s a worthy gift (or just a lovely thing to enjoy yourself). I definitely wouldn’t turn it down if someone showed up at my door with it; in fact, I’d probably hoard it all to myself. Enough with the talk, just make it!
Again, I’m using jars and twine here. Not too original, I know, but I have hundreds of jars in my storage room and always pick them up at the thrift store when I see them, too, so I’m constantly adding to my collection. You could swap out the jars for disposable tupperware-type containers or use a bag and tie for the granola and a jar for the yogurt.
A Note About the Yogurt:
The recipe below is only for the granola. Here are the details on the yogurt: I’ve changed up my method for making homemade yogurt quite a bit (I’ll do an updated post come January most likely) but in a nutshell, I heat milk in a pot on the stove over high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 180 degrees F. Take it off the heat and add sugar, vanilla extract and coconut extract to taste, stirring well to dissolve the sugar (I use about 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon coconut extract for every gallon of milk – this makes for a very, very mildly sweet yogurt; if you want it sweeter, add more sugar to taste). Let the milk cool to between 110 and 120 degrees F. Mix 1/2 cup plain yogurt with a cup or two of the warm milk and then stir that mixture back into the pot with the milk. Fill quart-sized canning jars with the milk/yogurt mixture. Place in a cooler with an equal number of covered jars of extremely hot water. Close the cooler and let the yogurt culture for 8-10 hours (I’ve also done this by placing the jars in the oven that has been preheated to 175 degrees and then turned off. I cover the jars with a large towel and turn the oven light on to maintain a bit of warmth for 8-10 hours). Straining the yogurt is optional; using whole milk, I rarely strain the yogurt, I simply place the jars in the refrigerator. If using 1% milk, I often strain the yogurt through cheesecloth in a strainer for about an hour and then whisk to recombine the yogurt and refrigerate. This seriously is the best yogurt in the world.
This granola is much better if left to sit, covered, for 12-24 hours - the flavors meld and the olive oil aroma dissipates. Also, the different ingredients are variable - add the type of nuts you prefer. You could also add dried fruit after the granola bakes and cools.
- 6 cups rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups unsweetened or sweetened flaked coconut, lightly chopped
- 1 1/3 cups macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/3 cups raw almonds, coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.
- In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until combined. Spoon out 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture and set aside to use later.
- Stir the large portion of the wet ingredients into the oat mixture, tossing to coat evenly.
- Divide the granola between the two baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring and flipping half way through.
- Toss the nuts and coconut with the reserved olive oil mixture.
- Add the nut mixture to the granola after it has baked for 20 minutes and bake for an additional 7 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. This granola tastes better if left to sit for a day or two before eating.