Tuesday, September 18, 2012

peanut butter & honey granola + raspberry compote

Before the year in the States, I don't think I ever actually had tasted peanut butter. When I moved to the States, I didn't quite understand the hype about peanut butter; why people would eat it straight from the jar by the spoonfuls. And I certainly didn't understand peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To me, they seemed more like dessert than lunch.

Then, well, I lived in the States for a year. I, too, started to eat peanut butter by the spoonfuls (Peanut Butter & Co. is my favourite brand). The peanut butters sold here in Finland aren't quite as good, though, and so I have given up on eating it by the spoonfuls. This is not to say that they would actually taste bad. It's just different enough for me to not want to eat it as it is. Instead, I use peanut butter in cooking and baking when the craving for it comes.

All this is to say that peanut butter makes great sandwiches. Not only are they delicious but they also keep in the room temperature for a while. The Scandinavian sandwiches - which consist of deli ham and cheese, and sometimes gravlax and/or eggs - do not. I'm not really a fan of PB&J, though. I prefer my peanut butter sandwich with a sliced banana and sometimes honey if I want it sweeter.

Now, on to the granola. Fragrant honey and flavourful peanut butter combine wonderfully in this granola, making it a grown-up and somewhat more sophisticated version of the loved sandwich. It is fitting for breakfast or as a snack, even lunch. Some chocolate chips could turn this either into a very indulgent breakfast or a healthy dessert.

My favourite way to eat this is to top some plain Greek yoghurt with this granola and squeeze a little honey on top to enhance the flavour. However, as I started to think about peanut butter & jelly sandwiches while making this granola, I found myself craving the said sandwich. I, then, made a quick and easy raspberry compote from frozen raspberries to turn the sandwich into a yoghurt concoction of sorts. In case you are craving for a peanut butter & jelly sandwich as well, the recipe for the raspberry compote is also provided and highly recommended.

Peanut Butter & Honey Granola
makes 3 cups without any add-ins

1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey *
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt **

3 cups rolled oats
2 to 3 tbsp ground flaxseeds (optional)

Possible add-ins: 1/2 cup dry-roasted (or honey-roasted) peanuts; 1/2 cup dried fruit like raisins or banana chips; 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 130C (275F). In a small saucepan, combine the oil, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat until liquid and runny. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the rolled oats and flaxseeds, if using. Stir until everything is coated with peanut butter, then pour the mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 40 minutes, flipping once or twice while baking, until the granola is golden and crunchy.

Let the granola cool to room temperature. Add any of the add-ins, if desired. Store in an airtight container.

* This amount of honey results in a slightly sweetened granola, which is what I prefer. If you like your granola sweeter, I recommend adding up to 1/4 cup brown sugar. However, I like to just squeeze more honey on top of the granola if I happen to want it sweeter.

** The peanut butter I used was slightly salted and I found the 1/2 tsp of salt was the perfect amount for my granola. The amount of salt might need adjustment depending on whether or not your peanut butter is salted and how you like your granola.

Raspberry Compote
makes 1 cup

2 cups frozen raspberries
2  to 4 tbsp sugar, to taste
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp potato starch

Slowly thaw the frozen raspberries in a saucepan over medium heat. When the raspberries are starting to get thawed, after about 3 to 5 minutes, add in the sugar and vanilla. When the raspberries are starting to get mushy, add in the potato starch and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then take off the heat. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating. The compote will get thicker after cooling down and refrigerating.

This recipe makes a thick compote. For a runnier compote, I recommend adding only 1/2 tsp potato starch.

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