For a long time I thought the price of delicious homemade granola was that you had to forgo the clumpy, crunchy clusters found in the store-bought boxes. This meant that granola had to be poured into a bowl and eaten with a spoon or sort of poured from your hand into your mouth, unless you liked picking up oats one by one with your fingers.
Luckily, while searching for a more hand-friendly granola I was told the clumpy granola secret by the wise granola eaters of the internet. Since then all my granola has been both breakfast and snack friendly.. sorry spoon, I just don't need you anymore.
1. Add egg whites to your mix of sugar and oil. Some people believe that you need to up the sugar content to get the clumps, but I make my granola with very little sweetener and the egg whites are sufficient enough binders to create the clusters
2. Don't Stir. I'll give the granola a stir halfway through baking, then firmly press down on it with my spatula and won't stir it again. So it's basically less work for better granola. Win win win.
And the best part is that you can make these changes to almost any granola recipe and turn it from loose granola to clumpy granola. Less stirring and egg whites are necessary, but the flavors are up to you.
This particular flavor combination was inspired by the recent snowfalls we've been getting. As soon as there's snow on the ground something snaps inside my head and all of my thoughts turn to Christmas Christmas Christmas. Suddenly sequin-ed sparkly clothes and decorations that seemed so tacky in the summertime find their way into my shopping bag, milk is replaced with eggnog, and everything tastes better with a bit of cranberry and cinnamon thrown in.
I'm impatiently waiting for the real Christmas trees to hit the stores so I can surround myself with as many colourful bobbles and twinkling lights as humanly possible. In the meantime I make due by Christmas-fying my granola.
Coconut oil, honey, and eggs whites are whisked together and then poured over the oats and pecans which have been tossed with a bit of salt and a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice, and ground cloves. The mixture is then spread of a tray lined with parchment paper and baked at 300 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes.
The trick to getting the granola to bake without needing to be stirred is using a low heat, and making a space in the middle of the tray where the granola often remained under-baked. Once it's golden brown, it gets one more firm press with a spatula and is allowed to cool completely on the tray. Don't stir in the cranberries yet! Especially with lower sugar granola, when it's cooling is where all the clumping magic happens.
Once cool, use the parchment paper to lift it up like a slab, then break it into pieces. I find this more effective than trying to get it out with a spatula which often breaks it up too much. Then you stir in the cranberries and can enjoy the only-slightly-sweet snack while listening to Christmas music and making a Christmas card list on excel.. or whatever else it is people do while eating granola.
Side note: can we all please look at how tiny the scoop in the photo is? It barely holds a single cranberry and half a pecan. It is completely useless, yet I couldn't stop myself from buying it. Total sucker.
Clumpy Cranberry Spice Granola
5 TBSP coconut oil
1/3 cup honey (if you like your granola sweeter, up this to a 1/2 cup)
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups old fashioned oats (large flake oats)
1 1/2 cups pecans
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp all spice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp cardamon
1 cup dried cranberries
1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300 degrees
2. In a heat proof bowl, microwave the coconut oil until melted, then whisk in the honey, brown sugar, egg whites, and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, pecans, salt, and spices.
4. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated. Scrape onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and use a spatula to pack the mixture down leaving a hole towards the middle of the pan
5. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes checking ever 10 minutes or so if the pan needs to be rotated. If you must stir, stir only once halfway through the baking time then pack the granola back down before returning to the oven. It's ready once it turns light golden brown
6. Allow the granola to cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Do not stir or disturb until completely cool!
7. Lift up the parchment paper and break the granola into chunks. Gently stir in the cranberries. Store in an airtight container.