I made the basic recipe, but to this of course you could add dried fruit or chocolate, and switch out the almonds for peanuts or other nuts.
Click on "read more" down below to get the full tutorial. This is a fun one!
This recipe makes over two dozen granola rings, so cut it in half if you'd like, but they do last two weeks in an airtight container, so maybe you should go for it like I did!
You will need 7 c. old fashioned rolled oats, 1/2 c. vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 c. whole almonds, 3/4 c. honey (I used half raspberry honey and half agave syrup, because that's what we had around), 3/4 c. brown sugar and 1 tbsp. vanilla extract. You can also add 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, but I left that out. You will also need cooking spray to oil the pans.
Start by preheating your oven to 375º. Mix the seven cups of rolled oats, 1/2 c. vegetable oil and 1/2 tsp. salt together in a large bowl. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the oat mixture evenly on the sheet. Toast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring every ten minutes and checking frequently to make sure the oats aren't getting too dark. They should be barely light golden brown when you take them out of the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 300º after the oats are done toasting.
Use the time your oats are in the oven to chop your nuts into coarse and fairly smallish bits.
Also, spray the donut pan cavities lightly with cooking spray.
Combine the 3/4 c. brown sugar and 3/4 c. honey in a small pan over low heat and stir frequently for five minutes until the sugar is well dissolved. Remove pan from heat and stir in the 1 tbsp. vanilla extract.
Place the oats and nuts in a large mixing bowl and pour in the syrup. Mix thoroughly. This stuff is sticky!
Working quickly, spoon the granola mixture over each pan cavity. Being careful not to burn your fingers, press the granola into the pans and clear the centers. This works much better if you coat your fingers with cooking spray, and even BETTER if you coat the back of a small spoon with cooking spray and use that.
The backs should all be nice and flat. My best granola rings resulted from filling them to a point about 1/8-3/16" down from the tops of the pans.
Here's an important tip to avoid any type of overcooking/burning of the granola. Place the pans in the center of the oven ONLY. Do not use the bottom rack. This means you can probably only bake three pans at a time. That's okay, it's worth the extra time.
Bake at 300º for 20-22 minutes. You really don't want anything getting brown, so check on them frequently. When you pull them out of the oven they will be really soft. Set the pans on cooling racks. As they cool, they will get nice and hard and crunchy.
Let them cool for about ten minutes so they start to set up, then you can pry them out of the pans with the tip of a knife. They should come out easily, leaving no residue behind. Set back on racks until completely cool and stiff.
These are so similar to those Nature Valley granola bars, but what a savings! They are really filling, too.
AND, guess what? They are super in milk. Of course!