When I moved over here in the year 2000, I carried a 4 litre tin of Maple Syrup right onto the plane with me. I have always loved the flavours of maple and it wasn't something I thought I could live without. Of course you would never get a tin like that on an aircraft now, but this was pre 9/11. Flying was pretty much fear free . . .
Maple is a very North American thing. I grew up with it. We have maple flavoured ice cream, cookies, cakes, sausages and bacon. Now I know the Brits really don't understand the sweet and savoury combination in quite the same way as we do in North America. Take Peanut Butter and Jelly for instance. To them it sounds quite gross, and they are loathe to even try it.
Maple and Bacon are another sweet and savoury combination that is quite quite delicious. I saw a recipe in Nigel Slater's latest book (A Year Of Good Eating) for Bacon Granola . . . which I have loosely adapted here today . . . as soon as I saw his recipe I thought it was just begging for Maple to be added. The mark of a good recipe in my opinion is that it opens itself to exploration and adaptation to ones own tastes and skills.
Nigel used almonds . . . I used pecans today with spectacular results. I added sunflower and pumpkin seeds for extra crunch and some colour. For fruit . . . and some additional sweetness I used chopped dates. They add an incredible fudgy almost caramel like sticky sweetness to the mix which is sublime. And of course the cranberries add colour and more sweetness. I do like a lot of fruit in my granola.
This is a granola that begs to be served warm . . . with the oats all mapley and buttery crisp, and just a tad salty from the bacon fat . . . those fudgy pieces of sticky date, the nuggets of sweet cranberry . . some meatiness . . . and nutty crunch. Soooo good, especially with a nice cold dollop of Greek Yogurt on top . . rich and creamy.
It's not over the top sweet, so you could add an extra drizzle of maple syrup if you wish. I found it just right. Enjoy! (Do store any leftovers in the refrigerator, warming them up slightly before serving.)
*Maple & Bacon Granola*Serves 4