Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jack's Favorite Granola; Coconut Rum-Swirled Brownies

Recipe: Granola and Coconut Rum-Swirled Brownies

As often happens, I arrive at the end of this week and realize that I need another day or two to complete what I had set out to accomplish at the beginning of the week.

Because of the almost 1¼” of rain which we received yesterday, the soil in my garden was nice and soft, and I took the opportunity to weed. It was so easy to pull those little buggers out with their roots that I spent way too much time doing this. The result—my garden looks great! And my back is killing me. I really should leave a bottle of ibuprofen in the kitchen, instead of upstairs in the bathroom, since neither Jack (who also spent the day doing intensive work outside and is feeling its after-effects) nor I have the energy to climb the stairs. I’ve refilled his iced tea twice since dinner—with any luck he will have to go upstairs soon… ;)

I had wanted to post at least three times this week, but it will have to be two. And since I am late with so many things, I will post a recipe which two friends have asked me to since mid-June.

Last winter when I broke my ankle, my Mom brought down a lot of food to sustain us. I love my Mom! Anyway, one of the items she brought was a big bag of granola. Jack, needing something to snack on one evening, spooned some vanilla yogurt in a bowl and then added some of the granola. He enjoyed this so much it became his “usual” evening snack (which beats the heck out of even the baked tortilla chips and baked potato chips which he had been eating until then). After this supply was used, I was beginning to feel more stable in my cast, so I set about reworking Mom’s recipe a little. I came up with a really delicious, lowfat granola that is full of good things.

I made four pounds of this to take on vacation in June. For one breakfast while our friends

George & Tammy were there, I made scones and also had fresh fruit, vanilla yogurt and granola. Tammy, as expected, enjoyed it. George, surprisingly, did also! He’s not a “breakfast person” but he did a good job on the granola, even asking if I could post the recipe on my blog. This past weekend, during our lake house get-together, he also commented on how much he liked it. I felt badly since things were so crazy for the last month that I had barely even posted anything on the blog, so I made a promise to do this in the very near future. Here it is!

* Exported from MasterCook *


Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 30

Preparation Time: 1:15

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method


1/2 cup water

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 cups rolled oats

2 cups almonds -- chopped; or 2 cups total of any mixture of nuts

Bring the water and brown sugar to a boil over low heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and allow to cool until lukewarm. Stir in vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 275F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

Measure the oats into a huge bowl (you need the space to toss the oats and syrup together). If the nuts which you are using are NOT ROASTED, add them to the bowl as well. Pour the syrup over and mix thoroughly (using your hands is the easiest way to do this).

Divide the mixture between the 2 baking sheets and level, patting down firmly.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the sheets and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir (the oats around the outside edges will be browned more than the oats in the center). A flat, heatproof spatula is perfect for this, working around the perimeter scraping the mixture from the outside into the center.

IF you are using ROASTED nuts, add them (divide between the 2 baking sheets) and stir in a bit. Level and return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the sheets on baking racks until completely cooled (stir occasionally).

Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. This keeps nicely for about a month. You can freeze it in a freezer bag for longer storage.


"10 cups"

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Per serving: 163 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat (1g Saturated); (39% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 39mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 4 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Add dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots, etc) after granola has cooled, if desired. You can also add dried or fresh fruit prior to serving.

Well, I think that I’ll post another favorite. While I was making the granola this evening, I decided to also prepare some coconut rum brownies to take when we visit my parents this weekend.

These brownies are a chunk o’ heaven. They are easy—two specially-prepared brownie mixes are the base, and a coconut-flavored cream cheese mixture is swirled in. Dark rum is used to prepare the brownie mixes instead of water. You can prepare them as just Coconut Brownies, using water instead of dark rum, but why would you want to? These are dense, fudgy, and
incredibly decadent! Use a fork… ;)

All brownie mixes are not created equal, so I use the best-quality available. Ghirardelli makes great mixes, and I’ve used both the mix containing the chocolate syrup pouch or, since I have been unable to locate that mix lately, I’ve been using the Double Chocolate mix which contains chocolate chips.

Every brownie mix has different ingredients, too, so here are a couple of rules-of-thumb to use:

  • Replace the water with dark rum. If you are serving these to guests and you are not certain if they like a heavy rum flavor, use about 2/3 of the total amount of water as rum, and the remaining amount water.

  • As for the oil, I reduce it a little. For example, with the Ghirardelli mix each package calls for 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2/3 cup total for the recipe. I use ½ cup.

Now, this makes a 9” x 13” pan. It can be halved and baked in an 8” square pan (adjust the baking time accordingly) but since these brownies are so darn good, and they freeze very well, why just not make the big ol’ pan? Really, you won't be sorry. :)

When I make brownies or bar cookies, I find that it helps a lot to line the baking pan with foil (leaving a 2” overhang on the long sides), then spray with cooking spray. When the brownies are thoroughly cool, lift the brownies up out of the pan in one piece and they will be much easier to cut that way.

I sprinkled shredded, sweetened coconut on top of this batch. Next time, I will use toasted coconut since this didn't "toast" very much while the brownies were cooking.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Coconut Rum-Swirled Brownies

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 24

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 large egg

1/3 cup sugar

8 ounces neufchatel cheese

1/2 tablespoon coconut extract

2 large eggs

40 ounces Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix -- (2 packages)

2/3 cup dark rum

1/2 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 9"x13" baking pan with cooking spray.

Prepare swirl by beating egg lightly in medium bowl, then add sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add the neufchatel cheese and coconut extract and beat at high speed for one minute. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly then add the dark rum and canola oil and mix well. Add the two packages of brownie mix and stir gently until mixed. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Dollop the cream cheese swirl on top of the brownie mixture and, using a wide-tip knife, swirl the cream cheese into the chocolate.

Bake for about 50-55 minutes, turning the pan 2 or 3 times, until the center is set and the edges are very lightly browned and dry-looking. Insert a toothpick into the center- it will emerge relatively clean with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool completely, on a rack, before cutting.

Store in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days; freeze for longer storage. Like they will last for that long...

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Per serving: 290 Calories (kcal); 12g Total Fat (4g Saturated Fat); (39% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 40g Carbohydrate; 31mg Cholesterol; 207mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 15 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates