Ever since I made that first batch of homemade granola, I've become something of a granola junkie. I've made about three batches at this point, and each one's been a little different, but they've all been good. Today I decided to try a more unusual combination. Lavender and roses!
I cook with culinary lavender often, so always have some on hand. Right now I have Hood River Lavender, but I'm sure there's a good source closer to me in New York, I just haven't searched for one yet. If you cook with flowers, it's really important to confirm that they're intended for culinary use, otherwise you might be getting pesticides or preservatives along with that lovely floral taste.
Again, I'm terrible at measuring things when I'm experimenting in the kitchen, so this is just a rough outline. If I'd had dried culinary rose petals or lemon balm in the house, those would have gone in as well and I think they would have made the granola even better.
Lavender-Rose Granola with Turkish Apricots
dried culinary lavender buds
lavender-infused grey sea salt (also from Hood River)
dried shredded coconut
finely chopped almonds
(not lavender EO)
tiny dash of vanilla extract
a bit of agave nectar to round out the sweetness
a few squirts of lemon juice
dried Turkish apricots, cut lengthwise into thin strips
I dumped all the dry ingredients in a big bowl and stirred until everything was evenly dispersed and well-balanced in terms of proportions. I low-balled the salt as I usually do at first. I left out the almonds because the ones I use are raw and I don't like the cook them---I just add them in at the very end after everything is cool.
To add the wet ingredients, I started with equal amounts honey and EVOO and then added the lemon juice, rose water, lavender extract and agave until the moisture was about right and the taste was good. I added a bit of vanilla extract but not too much, as it's easy to overwhelm the delicate florals. Finally I did a salt check, and adjusted as needed. Because I always start with a little less salt than I think will be the right amount, I can slowly add until it's just right. Nothing ruins a recipe faster than too much salt! Then I cooked the mixture on flat cooking sheets in a 300 degree oven. I turned the oats every 15 minutes or so, until it was evenly toasted and dry. When it was cool, I added the almonds and the apricots.
The granola is really incredible. The primary smell (and taste) is sweet oats, followed by gentle lavender and then the subtler notes of rose and lemon. The apricot goes wonderfully with these flavors/scents, and adds some textural dimension. This is only encouraging me to experiment again.