Almond and Cherry Granola

Almond and Cherry Granola
Slow cooking makes it easier to avoid burnt granola than with traditional oven versions
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole almonds 250 mL
  2. 5 cups large-flake (old-fashioned) rolled oats 1.25 L
  3. 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 250 mL
  4. 1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar 125 mL
  5. 1⁄4 tsp salt 1 mL
  6. 1⁄4 cup butter 60 mL
  7. 1 tbsp vanilla 15 mL
  8. Nonstick cooking spray
  9. 1 cup dried tart cherries 250 mL
Instructions
  1. Coarsely chop almonds, aiming to cut each almond into only 2 or 3 pieces (so they won’t burn as easily).
  2. In a large bowl, combine almonds, oats and coconut. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together brown sugar, salt and butter. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle butter mixture over oat mixture, tossing until everything is well combined and evenly coated.
  3. Spray the bowl of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour in the oat mixture. Cover and cook on high for 30 to 60 minutes or until granola is hot throughout. Stir and cook, uncovered, on high for 1 to 11⁄2 hours, stirring every so often so the edges don’t get too brown. Toward the end of the cooking time, you’ll need to stir more often. Once everything is a couple of shades darker, stir in cherries. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely. Store in a glass jar at room temperature for a few weeks. Makes about 8 cups (2 L).
Notes
  1. Tip: The granola will toast a little faster if you push it up against the side of the slow cooker, leaving a well in the middle.
  2. Variations: Granola adapts well to almost endless variations. Try pecan halves or whole hazelnuts in place of the almonds, or other dried fruits, such as cranberries or chopped dried apricots, instead of the tart cherries. You can even add chunks of dark chocolate to the finished (and completely cooled) granola.
  3. “A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”
  4. — P. J. O’Rourke
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