Cherry Almond Granola

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There was a heatwave this past weekend. Temperatures neared one hundred degrees and the air was as still as the calm before a storm. It was an unexpected appearance in a typically mild June. The sun and I have always had a healthy relationship, but the heat began putting a strain on it. For the better part of three days, the sun shined directly into my apartment with nary a cloud to provide blessed temporary relief. With the blinds closed and the air conditioning unit running on full blast, I managed to cool the apartment down to a balmy 90 degrees F.

This was a small improvement over the temperature of the surface of the sun.

At first, I ignored the rising temperature, pretending that is was perfectly normal to sweat while watching television. I held strong through the unbearable heat, pretending I didn't mind the sticky, humid clouds forming in my apartment. I fought the heat as I cursed the leather couch when I laid across it, too exhausted from the temperatures to pry myself off of it. I gave into the heat, running the oven to bake cookies because I couldn't imagine the oven could do more damage than the sun had already afflicted. I managed the heat with the most style and grace that I could muster.

Then, I snapped.

Ten minutes later I found myself in the refrigerated section of the local grocery store, carrying around a red basket to give the impression I was there for any reason other than to beat the heat. I reveled in the chill of the dairy aisle, staying far past my welcome as I pretended to compare butter labels to avoid pointed questions. Though I didn't intend to buy anything (I had done my grocery shopping just that morning), with the rows of yogurt directly in my vision I could scarcely think of anything other than how much I wanted to eat it—all of it—sprinkled with granola.

Some recipes are born out of love and tender growth, while others are created out of overheated desperation in the dairy aisle of a supermarket at precisely 9:23 pm on a Saturday evening.

Honestly, I don't think you can't taste the difference.

Cherry Almond Granola has varied textures and fabulous flavors that will steal your heart. Oats, almonds, and coconut flakes are sweetened with brown sugar and maple sugar before toasting in the oven. The granola is rounded out with tart dried cherries and a pinch of nutmeg which bring all of the flavors together in a unique, but delicate manner. I've experimented with several granola recipes before, but this recipe has made a little imprint on my heart. I'm in love.

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Orange Miniature Cakes

Cherry Almond Granola

Yields 6 cups

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3 cups old fashioned or rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, nutmeg, and salt until smooth. Stir in the oats, almonds, coconut flakes, and dried cherries until mixture is evenly coated.

Spread out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Cool before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serve with milk, yogurt, or by the handful.