#pantrycleanout

Pantry Clean-Out Granola

I’ve been baking my own granola for years now, usually inspired by the odds and ends I find when cleaning my pantry. It’s incredibly satisfying to empty the remnants of bags of nuts, a tub of dried mystery fruit, a jar of cinnamon, and a rubber-band wrapped package of quinoa in one fell swoop! In the process, I create a wide open pantry shelf AND breakfast of champions for weeks!

Armed with some photos I took during the recent production of 60 jars for a dear friend’s wedding, I’m finally putting this granola “recipe” on the Teaching Table blog.

As the air quotes suggest, this is barely a recipe but rather a set of suggestions and instructions for assembling goodness out of any combination of nuts & dried fruit, spice, seeds, oil & sweetener. Mix and match to create a personalized granola that suits your taste and needs (or uses what you find in the back of your pantry). You can even adjust the ratios of the dry ingredients. The amounts are relative — another vote for this solution to reduce food waste! Here’s a basic formula.

Pantry Clean-Out granola

What you need:

Ingredients for Shannon & Dylan’s Signature (vaguely Morrocan) Granola.

Ingredients for Shannon & Dylan’s Signature (vaguely Morrocan) Granola.

  • 2 ½ - 3 cups rolled (not instant nor steel cut) oats

  • ½ - 1 cup whole grains such as quinoa, millet and amaranth

  • 2 - 4 tablespoons seeds, such as sesame, chia and flax

  • 1 - 2 teaspoons of ground spice, such as ginger, cinnamon, or cardamom, or powders like cocoa and matcha tea

  • ½ - 1½ cups nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews and pistachios

  • ½ cup oil (melted coconut, canola, hazelnut, pistachio, grapeseed, or olive oil)

  • ⅓ cup sweetener in syrup form, such as honey, agave or maple syrup

  • ½ cup dried fruit, such as raisins, tart cherries, apricots, figs, peaches or apples, ¼ inch dice

What you do:

Some of my favorite combinations:

All of these start with rolled oats…

  • walnuts + cinnamon + canola oil + maple syrup + dried apples

  • pistachios + almonds + cardamom + sesame seeds + coconut oil + honey + dried apricots

  • almonds + cocoa powder + nut oil (hazelnut, walnut) + agave + dried cherries

  • cashews + ginger + quinoa + coconut oil + agave + coconut flakes + dried mango

  • matcha tea powder + cashews + coconut oil + agave + golden raisins

  • walnuts + pistachios + cinnamon + quinoa + grapeseed oil + honey + raisins

What goes into your favorite mixture?

Almond Cookie Butter and Jam Cups in a Dark Chocolate Shell

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Once, when diligently cleaning out my pantry, I stumbled upon a partial package of biscuits and the dried up remnants of a jar of almond butter (you know, the part left behind because I didn’t bother to evenly distribute the oils). And of course I had dark chocolate chips on hand. Determined to turn these scraps into something edible and pacify my junk candy craving, I whipped up confections suitable for a vacation-land ice cream shop, that can live in my freezer to be eaten on demand.

This recipe has gone through a few iterations to reach the perfect state it’s currently in. At first, I used mini tart shells and swirled the chocolate and almond butter filling together. While it created an artful design (see photo top right), it was much too large for one serving and too hard to cut into for sharing. My initial peanut butter cup inspiration did not include jam. But the richness of the almond butter and the bitterness of the chocolate called for something tart and sweet. Enter in: any type of jam you have on hand - my favorites for this are raspberry and strawberry. Finally, it was the students in my gluten free desserts class who suggested lining the sides of the muffin cup with a thin layer of chocolate to contain all of that almond butter gooeyness (see photo bottom right for earlier less refined yet photogenic version). Proof that even the best desserts can be made better.


Almond Cookie Butter and Jam Cups in a Dark Chocolate Shell

Makes: 9-12 candy pieces

What You Need:

  • 5 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely crushed biscuit* crumbs

  • ½ cup creamy almond butter

  • Pinch sea salt

  • 8 oz dark chocolate

  • ¼ cup jam (raspberry or strawberry recommended)

What You Do:

  1. Line a small baking sheet with silicone muffin cups or mini tart shells (1½ - 2 inches in diameter).

  2. Over a double boiler (or in a glass bowl in the microwave), melt the coconut oil. Set aside 2 level teaspoons of coconut oil to be added to the chocolate later.

  3. Combine 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil, biscuit crumbs, almond butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon more coconut oil if needed to smooth out the mixture.

  4. In the same double boiler or bowl in which you melted the coconut oil, melt the chocolate with the reserved 2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Whisk until smooth.

  5. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the melted chocolate into the bottom of each cup and spread out, turning and tilting the cup so that the chocolate evenly coats the bottom of the cup and runs up the sides about half an inch. Freeze for 3-5 minutes.

  6. Dollop approximately 1 tablespoon of the biscuit crumb and almond butter mixture on top of the chocolate base in each cup.

  7. Dollop ½ - 1 teaspoon of jam into the center of each cup.

  8. Freeze for 20-30 minutes or until jam is firm.

  9. Top the cup with another 2-3 teaspoons melted chocolate (Reheat it over the double boiler first if it firmed up). Spread chocolate evenly across the tops of the cups. Freeze for 30 minutes before enjoying.

To Freeze:

After the cups have completely hardened, remove from their liners and transfer to a freezer safe bag or container. Store up to 6 months. But they will not last this long.

To Defrost:

Remove from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Promptly return any uneaten portions to the freezer.

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*Note about biscuits:

My favorite biscuits to use for these cups are the European graham cookies typically turned into speculoos. Biscoff works particularly well, but you can make these cups equally delicious with any sweetmeal or wholegrain biscuits that come in a cellophane tube (shown on the right), as well as gluten free graham cookies.