I've been making my own granola for years, before I made jam, crackers, bread or any other such foods. In the beginning I was amazed at how dead pan easy it was and I'm sure I asked the question "why would you buy this?". I know that's a complicated question and there are plenty of easy to make foods that in actuality are are quite simple in their execution. Think chocolate truffles, salad dressing, ricotta and even yogurt . But granola is really one I wish people dived into more. Its easier than chocolate chip cookies, lasts longer, and is so sooo much cheaper than buying it.
My granola recipe began with a Martha Stewart recipe, as many of my early and current work does. From there it evolved with influences from many, morphing eventually into one recipe I can call me own and is still my go to formula - high fibre, low sugar version loaded with nuts and seeds and often a variety of rolled grains, studded with bright dried berries. Perfect breakfast on the go. Its been affectionately labeled, Tamola.
But even with a tried and true recipe, I'm still always on the look out for something unique. Last year I was particularly smitten with a granola that included a healthy does of molasses, giving it a deep dark flavour and I even dabbled in a recipe that included boiling apple cider down to a syrup to use as a sweetener. When I read a note by Mark Bittman about peanut butter granola the idea sounded positively revolutionary.
I came across a coveted jar of local hazelnut butter in my fridge and this inspired this recipe I'm sharing with you today. Since this was created soon after world nutella day, I had chocolate and hazelnut on the brain. While certainly a sweet, almost dessert version of granola could be made with chopped chocolate or cocao (wait until Nutella Day 2012!), this was still to be a breakfast treat. I reached for a tin of Theo Cacao nibs, perfect little bits of chocolate flavour provided by the broken nibs that are destined to become that dark chocolate I love. You get chocolate flavour without the sugar and plenty of crunch. This was so be some special batch of granola.
What makes this granola even better than the sum of its parts, however, are the clusters! Those nubby globs of compacted ingredients seem like something you find in purchased granola or cereal boxes. But they are easily accomplished with this recipe because of the nut butter, which provides glue for those clusters.
The hazelnut butter provides extra protein and healthy oils but mostly oh so much flavour! Studded with chopped hazelnuts, plenty of coconut and other nuts and seeds I like to leave this granola without any dried fruit. This gives you freedom to have it alone or to add fresh or frozen berries at will. I do recommended blueberries and pears. I'd venture to say that this might just become by stand by formula, at least for a while.
Nibby Hazelnut Butter Granola
6 cups oats
1 cup coconut, unsweetened
3/4 cup cacao nibs
1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup hazelnut butter, substitute almond butter if desired
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat over to 325F. Have 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat liners.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, large enough to allow lots of room for tossing.
Stir together nut butter, syrup and salt until well combined.
Pour wet mixture over oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated with mixture.
Divide mixture evenly between the 2 baking sheets, then using your hands pick up handfuls of granola at a time and squeeze firmly and then drop the mixture back on. Do this throughout the mixture creating medium size clusters. Make sure the mixture is still an even thickness, but resist the urge to stir it up much which will break up your clusters.
Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating sheets after 20 minutes. Mixture should be dry and lightly toasted. If in doubt, nibble some to see if its toasted enough.
Store in jar for up to a month.