I’ve been craving granola like you wouldn’t believe.
Ever since my cube neighbor mentioned it a few days ago, it’s all I can think about. We have been talking granola for 2 days straight, and I’ve been literally bursting at the seams to go home and make some. The big 2-day-long discussion centered around crunchiness. How exactly do you get granola to stay crunchy and clustered together? Clearly, a food challenge I could not possibly resist. It became my mission to figure out the secret. We talked about the possibilities. Perhaps the culprit of soggitude is the honey or quick cooking oats? Or maybe it’s the dried fruit? My cube neighbor experimented with toasting everything from the oats to the seeds in hopes that it would add that extra bit of crunch (and tons of flavor). And after the raisins shrank in the oven, she learned firsthand that the dried fruit works a lot better when added at the very end. I put both of those techniques to the test and added one more trick of my own: egg whites. I saw this blog post and it just clicked. This has to work. Crunchy granola, here we come. My yogurt is waiting.
Crunchy, nutty, trio of honey granola
Adapted from the NY Times
3 cups rolled oats, toasted
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
3/4 cup walnut pieces + 1/4 cup ground walnuts, toasted
1 cup whole flax seeds
1 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted
1 cup sesame seeds, toasted (or you can buy the roasted ones)
1 cup whole almonds, toasted
A trio of honey: 1/4 cup honey + 1/4 cup buckwheat honey + 1/4 cup blue agave nectar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or packed brown sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 egg white, whisked
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toast the oats, nuts and seeds, if desired. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients (except the egg white) together and stir well. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy and frothy. Mix into prepared granola. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet (or use a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking). Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. When the granola is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool completely (preferably overnight, since removing it from the cookie sheet too early won’t give it the chance to cluster up). Once the granola is completely cool, break it up into clumps and transfer to an airtight container.
Notes: To toast, simply add the raw oats, nuts or seeds to a pan without oil and toast over medium low heat until fragrant. The only thing I decided not to toast were the flax seeds. For the walnuts, you can use a cup of chopped walnuts as in the original recipe, but I happened to have some extra ground ones on hand and it turned out to be a nice touch. For the honey, I know agave is not technically honey, but it’s a great combination. This trio idea was kind of an accident. I was going to use agave, but I only had 1/4 cup left, so I thought why not mix it with regular honey, and while I’m at it, why not use both regular and buckwheat. It turned out to be a delicious mistake.
The verdict: awesomeness. I have to admit that this granola is worthy of bagging and selling with a huge markup. It’s really really good. It tasted so good on its own, that I didn’t even bother adding any dried fruit at the end. It just didn’t need it. I have a feeling this will be a recipe I make again and again. And I already can’t wait to experiment with new flavor combinations. Oh, and I might even try using an egg replacer to bind it next time to see how it works. Possibly a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water) or Ener-G Egg Replacer. Could be another interesting twist.