Homemade S'Mores Granola

If you read food blogs (and you're here, so I assume you do), you've probably been seeing a lot of  s'mores posts this week.

Why? Because August 10th is National S'Mores Day--a ridiculous and totally arbitrary holiday invented by the people who sell marshmallows that I've nonetheless decided to honor because I LOVE MARSHMALLOWS!

I'm totally the girl who walks slowly down the marshmallow aisle at the grocery store, squeezing and smelling every bag. (I prefer the smell of marshmallows to the smell of roses. I would one day like to have a marshmallow garden.)

I actually love them so much that I can't buy them because I WILL eat the entire bag by myself in a single sitting. I have zero control.

When I do buy marshmallows for a recipe or party, I have to force myself to hide them in the freezer or in the VERY back of the VERY high shelf. It works...until a few weeks later when I'm hunting around for a can of chickpeas and come across the bag.

At which point I immediately sit down on top of the counter to eat every single one (even better when they're kind of stale or partially frozen...oh yes!).

Marshmallows are totally my kryptonite.

And this granola you see here? Oh geez. I'm in so much trouble.

This stuff is GOOD. It's not just granola with chocolate and marshmallows in it. It's granola that tastes like graham crackers.

Let me repeat that...the clusters of granola actually TASTE LIKE GRAHAM CRACKERS!

The secret here was a result of some nerdiness on my part. I was reading about the history of the graham cracker, and learned that it was originally invented as a health food by Reverend Sylvester Graham, an early 19th century Presbyterian minister.

He loathed white flour with a passion, and developed a special and naturally sweet flour made by using all of the grain. This flour was used to make the plain cookies known as graham crackers.

The original graham crackers were nothing like the cheap things you get in the Honey Maid box today. Most commercial brands don't even use graham flour anymore--just loads of sugar.

You can buy graham flour at health food stores and online via Amazon or King Arthur, but you can also make a version of homemade graham flour by combining white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ. And I figured out that it's the wheat germ that imparts that graham cracker flavor.

So that's the secret ingredient: I added wheat germ to my granola. When mixed with brown rice syrup [see note at end of recipe], butter, and a bit of brown sugar, the result is an addictive granola that tastes like little clusters of marshmallow-covered graham crackers.

Mixed with dark chocolate chunks, plush marshmallows, and cacao nibs for a little extra chocolate-y touch, the result is an indulgent and unbelievably delicious breakfast or dessert treat.

Eat this on its own, with milk, or in a bowl over yogurt. It's all good!

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Homemade S'Mores Granola
Wheat germ and rice syrup give the oat clusters in the homemade granola a distinct graham cracker taste. When paired with marshmallows and chocolate, it's the perfect breakfast version of the classic campfire dessert.

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup plain wheat germ
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup Brown Rice Syrup (See note below or substitute Golden Syrup, corn syrup, or honey)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
2 cups mini marshmallows (or use large artisan marshmallows and snip them, like I did)
1/3 cup cacao nibs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir the oats, wheat germ and kosher salt until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and brown rice syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Stir vigorously a few times to combine the mixture into a thick syrup.

Pour the syrup mixture over the oats and mix well until all the oats are covered with the syrup. Pour the oats onto the prepared sheet pan and spread out into a single layer, dividing the oats into little clumps (like granola!). Bake 10 - 15 minutes, or until oats are golden brown. Set baking sheet on a rack and let cool completely for 30 minutes (they will harden as they cool).

Once completely cool, stir in the chocolate chunks, marshmallows, and cocoa nibs (if using).

Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container or zipped baggie in a cool, dry place.

Note: Brown Rice Syrup (also known as Rice Malt Syrup and Rice Syrup) is a delicious sweetener made from brown rice. Similar in color and texture to corn syrup or honey, it's low on the glycemic index and contains zero fructose, which means it doesn't affect the body's blood sugar levels as dramatically as other sweeteners. It's also really really good, with a mild, almost caramel-like flavor that works beautifully in this recipe. It's available at stores like Whole Foods, online and at health food stores. I urge you to seek it out as it is a really wonderful and versatile ingredient. 

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