gluten-free crunchy coconut & pecan granola

crunchy coconut and; pecan granola (1)

I’m about to share something with you that rocked my world when I discovered this truth.  Lean in.

Not everyone has a sweet tooth.

Are you as stunned as I am at this revelation?  I don’t get.  I think they are cyborgs.  Surely, that’s the only logical explanation.  Or, maybe there is a finite number of sweet teeth in the universe and some people have more than one, leaving other poor souls without one.  I have at least three.  One is dedicated solely to chocolate.  Another seems to favor lemon, while the last loves coconut.  There may be more, but they have yet to make their debut.

This granola recipe is for the cyborgs in your life who don’t care for sweets, but deserve a treat for Valentine’s Day.  We may not understand them, but we love them nonetheless.

Crunchy Coconut Pecan Granola

You need:

the usual suspects

the usual suspects

3 cups oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free oats)

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup apricots, chopped

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 Tbsp. flax seeds

2 Tbsp. coconut oil (I love the flavor of this brand)

1/4 cup honey (use good-quality, local honey)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup warm water

1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Here’s what you do:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine oats, pecans, apricots, coconut flakes and cinnamon.  Stir well to distribute the cinnamon.

melt coconut oil in hot water

melt coconut oil in hot water

In a measuring cup or bowl, combine warm water and coconut oil.  Stir until the coconut oil melts then stir in the honey and vanilla.  If you really want some over-the-top flavor, add almond extract to the liquids. (I’m allergic to almonds so I omit this when I’m making it for my family.  When I make it for friends, I add it and it is well-received.  It is delicious without it.  Follow your heart on this matter.)

add liquids and stir

add liquids and stir

Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir to coat.

spread on parchment-lined baking sheet

spread on parchment-lined baking sheet

Spread the granola on the baking sheet and place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

stir granola

After 30 minutes, stir the mixture around the baking sheet and then spread it out again in a thin layer.  Continue to do this in 10 minute increments until the coconut and oats turn light golden brown.  The overall cooking time for my oven is usually 45-50 minutes.  When I make this in the evening, I turn off the oven after 40 minutes and let it cool in the oven overnight.

let finished granola cool

let finished granola cool

When granola is completely cooled, store in an airtight container.  Stored this way, it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks.

thesimplehive.com

This granola is great with any kind of milk (cow’s, soy, coconut, etc.) poured over it.  My favorite way to eat it is with creamy, organic vanilla yogurt.

With this basic recipe, you can customize it to omit allergens to use what you have in the pantry.  No pecans?  Use another nut or sunflower seeds.  You don’t like apricots? Use chopped dates, dried cranberries or raisins instead.  You don’t have whole flax seeds?  Use ground flax seeds.  You get the idea.

Go forth in crunchiness.

simple sweets for your valentine

Five years ago, before baby honeybee was born, I made some treats for my husband to take to his work and share with his co-workers. That was back in the days, before homeschooling, when I had time for crazy activities like baking for fun. They were a hit, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like chocolate?

They look like I spent all day in the kitchen, but I didn’t. I’ll take you on a photo tour and tell you how I made these so you can, too. When you present these to your loved ones, feel free to be dramatic about spending your precious time to make them happy because you love them so muuuuuch. Go ahead. I won’t tell.

Warning:  The photos in this post are terrible!  They were taken using an old point-and-shoot.  I now have a decent camera, but I cannot guarantee that future pictures will be any better.  Please don’t hold it against me.

The first thing you need to do before you can decorate the cake is to bake a cake. I’m sure you figured that one out. So grab your favorite boxed cake mix and bake as directed. Your secret is safe with me. Alternately, you can bake your favorite cake from scratch. Do whichever you want. I’m flexible.

heart shaped mini cake

heart shaped mini cake

To make this heart shaped cake, I used a strawberry boxed cake mix, ahem, and used a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts for two layers. Hidden between the layers is a whipped ganache. Then I drenched the whole thing with velvety chocolate ganache and smoothed the edges with an offset spatula. A strawberry dipped in ganache adorns the top. See? Easy!

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For the heart shaped cake topped with 3 truffles, I used chocolate cake.  I used the cooled, leftover ganache for the truffles.  To make the truffles, simply roll the ganache  into balls and then roll around in cocoa powder.  A little whipped ganache in a pastry bag and piped around the bottom edge dresses it up a bit.

Do you see a ganache theme here? This is the recipe I used:

In a saucepan, heat 1 part cream to 3 parts good-quality dark chocolate over medium-low heat. When the chocolate is melted and completely incorporated with the cream, it’s ready.  If you remember nothing else I say, remember this:  Do not walk away from the stove.  If you do, the cream will betray you and will suddenly decide to boil and you will have a scorched, chocolaty mess on your hands.  I know you don’t really know me, but trust me on this.

While still warm and liquid, ganache can be easily poured over a cake for a smooth, shiny glaze. If you let it cool to room temperature, it becomes spreadable for fillings and frostings. Refrigerated ganache can be whipped for fillings and for forming truffles. Ganache is simple and versatile and that’s why I love it so.

baby cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

baby cake with chocolate buttercream frosting

This cake was make using 2 small round cake pans.  This time I made a chocolate cake from a boxed mix.  Don’t hate, appreciate.  I used chocolate buttercream for the filling and the frosting, then piped a simple edge with a pastry bag and star tip.  I’m fun that way.

all dressed up and ready to go

all dressed up and ready to go

What do you do with all the scraps of cake leftover from cutting heart shapes, you ask?

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You can do what I did and toss them in a mug, pour on the ganache, baby, and top with whipped cream!  My kids still remind me of how much they enjoyed these with hopes that I’ll make them again.  I’m not taking the hint.

If you’re making these treats for your family, they will love you forever, have the impression you have some mad baking skills and will hold you to higher expectations.  You’ve been warned.