The sights, sounds, and smells are what lets me know that the holidays are truly upon us. For me, the holidays have always been characterized by singing along to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album while eating pickled fish and baking delicious Swedish ginger cookies. A strange combination that doesn’t ring true for most, I’m sure, but for me… that’s Christmas.
As my college friends have drifted off to various places around the United States (and beyond, in some cases), I’ve lost the ability to make cookie plates to deliver to various houses – and mailing cookies is pretty difficult if you want them to be anything but crumbs when they arrive! The perfect solution? Granola – it’s already crumbly, and subsequently still recognizable when it comes out of a package man-handled by the Postal Service.
Craven Craisin Granola
(adapted from this granola recipe)4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 1 cup coconut flakes 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup honey 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3/4 cup almond slivers 3/4 cup dried cranberries (with no added sugar)
In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, oil, honey and cinnamon and heat until just starting to bubble, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, stirring to combine.
Mix oats and coconut flakes together in a large bowl. Pour sauce pan contents over oats and coconut flakes and stir well to combine – coating evenly.
Spread oats and coconut in a thin, even layer on cookie sheets. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.
Remove cookie sheets from the oven and let oats and coconut cool, tossing a couple times to prevent a giant cookie-sheet-sized block of granola from forming.
When mostly cool, return oats and coconut to a mixing bowl and mix in dried cranberries and almonds. For extra credit, toast the almond slices for a 3 minutes, flipping mid-toasting.
Package in Martha Stewart holiday bags, preferably sealing with bows.