I'm sure you've already figured out that I love a good DIY almost as much as I love cake. There is a certain kind of satisfaction that you experience from knowing that a gift you gave was a result of your own creativity and hard work. This year I decided to use my own skills and try to make my own Christmas gifts, where possible. I'm almost always broke and this Christmas will be no exception to the rule, so making my own gifts will not only make me happy, it will also keep my bank balance in check, which can't be a bad thing, can it? I think not.
The items are still all coming together, but so far I've settled on Gingerbread Men, Rumballs, my own tea blend, and homemade granola. I might also include a jar of preserves or even a home made lemon curd but let's not get too ahead of ourselves.
So today I made up a batch of gingerbread dough, which is now in the freezer (until closer to Christmas when I can bake them) and then I experimented with making my own granola and I'm rather pleased with the result. It's lucky I managed to keep some aside for my Christmas gifting, to be honest!
I am a chocoholic so I thought I'd weave in some chocolate to make it a bit more indulgent, and I also wanted to add some spices as my own tribute to Christmas - but overall this granola is super healthy and has no added refined sugar whatsoever. I don't really like a lot of fruit in my granola; I like to keep it simple, so I only added a little bit of dried apricot, for some natural sweetness and because I thought it would go nicely with the hints of chocolate in the granola.
If you are making your Chocolate Apricot Granola ahead of time as I did, make sure you store it in an airtight container as long as possible prior to gifting it. This will ensure it's in pristine condition at the time of gifting and retains its crunch nicely! I will be keeping mine in the jar I've got it stored in until the night before Christmas, when I'll bundle them up and label with handmade labels, like in the picture above!
Here is the recipe for my homemade Chocolate Apricot Granola. This made 4 cups of crunchy, delicious granola.
Chocolate Apricot Granola
Makes 4 cups.
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup flaked almonds
2 tablespoons crushed nuts
10 whole dried apricots chopped into small pieces or 1/2 cup diced dried apricot
¼ cup cacao
¼ cup cacao nibs
¼ cup sugar free maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tsp chia seeds
1 cup All-Bran or similar
1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a large oven tray with baking paper. Spray lightly with a neutral flavoured oil spray.
2. Scatter coconut flakes on lined tray and toast in preheated oven for 2 minutes. Make sure you monitor the flakes and remove if they start to turn gold before the 2 minutes is up - coconut can burn quite easily! Allow to cool on tray before placing in a large mixing bowl.
3. Repeat the same process with the flaked almonds and then with 1 cup of the oats. Again, keep an eye on them. Allow to cool then transfer to the large mixing bowl.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining cup of oats, maple syrup and vanilla essence and mix well to coat all the flakes. Add half the cacao and all of the spices and mix well to evenly combine. Spread the mix on the lined tray and place in the oven. Toast for 5-7 minutes, monitoring constantly. You want the oats to be completely dry and crispy. Once ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool before adding to your large mixing bowl with the other toasted ingredients.
5. Add in chopped the dried apricots, sunflower seeds, cacao nibs, crushed nuts, chia seeds, bran and remaining cacao and gently mix.
6. Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place for up to 3 months. If you are gifting it, place into cellophane bags or cute little mason jars and stick a hand-written label on the front listing the ingredients and storage instructions.
HAPPY GIFTING! X