I was craving something sweet one afternoon when I thought back to an episode of Barefoot Contessa that I watched a couple of weeks ago. Ina Garten made homemade granola bars for an episode about breakfast. Her bars featured apricots, cranberries, coconut, and slivered almonds along with oats and a base made out of sugar and honey.
I was inspired to take a look at what I had on-hand in my own kitchen to make a batch of my own. I always have pantry basics, like oats and dried fruit, on-hand for baking. What I ended up making was something that, for granola standards, was really, really tasty.
My recipe features toffee bits, which adds crunch and gives the granola a caramel flavor while cutting down on the amount of additional sugar needed for the syrup. I add walnuts for a nutty crunch and protein, and dried figs for chewiness and fiber. For the base, I use a little brown sugar for flavor and raw dark agave nectar, which is low glycemic yet sweeter than honey so you can use less of it.
You could probably make these into bars, which was my initial thinking. I changed my mind, though, and stirred the granola periodically as it was in the oven, already thinking ahead and tempted by the idea of serving this granola with some Greek or strained yogurt for breakfast the next morning.
And, by the way, I can’t tell you how much I love this little Kuhn Rikon pairing knife. This one was included in a swag bag that I received a few years ago when I visited the Saveur test kitchen with Steve for a session during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (P.S., one of the coolest and best food experiences I’ve had; would love to go again.) If you don’t have one, get one. Seriously. For $10 at Williams Sonoma, or you could also buy a set on the Kuhn Rikon webstore, it is the best little knife you’ll buy; sharp as anything, nothing sticks to it (even these super-sticky dried figs), and the colors are cute. I also have one in teal, but I feel like I need at least one or two more; both of these always seem to be MIA or dirty when I need them, I use them that often.
Toffee, Fig, and Walnut Granola
Makes approximately 6 cups.
3 cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
3/4 cup toffee bits (like Health brand, found in the baking aisle)
3 tablespoons wheat germ
1/4 cup flax and chia seeds, mixed
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup raw, dark agave nectar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Combine the oats, toffee, wheat germ, seeds, and salt in a bowl. Add the chopped figs and walnuts. Mix to combine ingredients.
In a glass liquid measuring cup that is large enough to hold at least 1 cup, combine agave, brown sugar, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until the brown sugar melts.
Combine agave mixture with oat mixture. Stir until oats are coated.
Spread in a flat, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 300*F or until golden brown. Stir the granola periodically so it forms little clusters as it is baking.
Let cool (the granola will crisp up as it cools), then break into chunks and store in a container. Serve as a cereal with your favorite milk, sprinkle on top of yogurt, mix with nuts and candies to make a trail mix, or eat plain by the handful.