I know you’ve got granola memories. Maybe they are faded, set up high on a dusty shelf with memories of your favorite birthday cake from childhood or the first time you really loved a slice of pizza. Maybe that memory includes the first time you cooked your own batch of granola after having watched a cooking show (like me). Maybe a friend of yours loves to cook and gave you the recipe.
Are you happy with the granola recipe you use? I’ve experienced mixed results in my efforts to find the right combination of oats, nuts, and crunchiness. It took me a while, but I think I figured it what I was really looking for: clusterization. I’m guessing sometime in my childhood I first tried a cluster filled bowl of heavenly granola then wolfed down two more servings in rapid succession.
I wonder if something like this happened to Melissa over at travelerslunchbox.com. I tried making her recipe for Seven-Year Granola, and the clusterization factor was off the charts fantastic. Big chunks of oats were hugging little centers filled with spices and nut pieces, creating a type of happy morning flavor only rivaled by the sun of a new day. Make a big enough batch of this granola and you can have that feeling every morning of your week!
When I cooked this recipe I made changes to it, which I’ve included below in italics. Enjoy!
Heavenly Cluster Granola
- 1 lb. (450g) quick oats (I used 12 oz quick oats and 4 oz rolled oats)
- 3 cups (750ml/about 300g) coarsely chopped raw nuts and/or seeds (I used pecans, shelled sunflower seeds, and sesame coated cashews)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (or nutmeg) (freshly grated nutmeg is FANTASTIC!)
- 1 cup packed (200g) dark brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup white and a 3/4 cup brown)
- 1/2 cup (115g/1 stick) unsalted butter (I cut this down to half a stick)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) water
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- dried fruit, at your discretion (I used 1 1/2 cups raisins)
Preheat the oven to 300ºF. In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the oats to a fine powder. In a large bowl, combine the whole oats, ground oats, nuts, seeds and spices. In a microwave-safe bowl (or in a saucepan over medium heat), combine the brown sugar, butter and water and heat just until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Stir the mixture together until smooth, then stir in the salt and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the oats and nuts, stirring well to coat (I usually do this with my hands). It should be uniformly moist – stir in another tablespoon or two of water if it isn’t. Let stand for about ten minutes.
Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between the clumps for the hot air to circulate. Slide into the middle of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and stir, gently breaking up the mixture into small-to-medium sized clumps. Return to the oven and bake another 15 minutes or so before stirring again. Repeat the bake-and-stir until the mixture is a uniform golden brown and completely dry; this usually takes 1-1 1/2 hours. Cool completely, then stir in any dried fruit you want to use.