Granola, crunchy and crunchier.

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I finally found it. The best granola recipe in the world.

There’s a lot of granola out there. And it’s mostly over-priced, overly-sweet, and overly-processed. Being a college student with a yoga mat, nose ring, and kombucha scoby, I am well acquainted with the art of homemade granola. But before a couple of days ago, I wasn’t able to create a crunchy yet dense wafer of honeyed oat goodness. Before, most granola batches either turned out slightly soggy or almost burnt. Granola needs to stick together. With independent oats, your milk and granola breakfast becomes a soupy mess; granola is a little like people.

The secret to granola “bark” is in the spatula. After you pour coated oats in to a rimmed baking sheet, firmly compress the mixture with the back of your spatula. Don’t stir the granola while it’s baking. Instead, just turn the pan around a couple times while in the oven.

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Despite its association with the crunchy, health-food types, granola really isn’t that healthy; it requires a dessert-worthy amount of fat and sugar. Thus I have two versions for you. One is sticky, coconut-oil rich, and sweet. It’ll taste more like the granola you buy in the store and it’ll also have just as many calories. The good part is it won’t have all the chemicals. The other version has modest amounts of fat and sugar and tastes great. But because there’s not much fat, the oats won’t stick together.

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Spiced Coconut Granola, Two Ways

Makes 6 cups.

Rich, sweet version

(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated‘s Almond Granola.)

1/3 c maple syrup
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil
5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp spice of choice (ie cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice)
2 cup (10 ounces) raw nuts, chopped coarsely, like almonds, pecans, or walnuts
2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, chopped

Or, the low-fat, low-sugar version

1/3 cup maple syrup
4 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp spice of choice (ie cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice)
2 cup (10 ounces) raw nuts, chopped coarsely, like almonds, pecans, or walnuts
2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, chopped

  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in oil. Fold in oats and nuts until thoroughly coated.
  3. Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (about 3/8 inch thick). Using stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking. Remove granola from oven and cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in dried fruit. (Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

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