I’m not really a granola person. I don’t mind it, but I can’t even remember the last time I bought any. I find the regular brands a bit blah, waxy, crumbly, and usually pretty high in fat and calories. I find the “healthy” brands dry and really lacking in flavor.
When I saw this recipe in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I have no idea why it caught my eye. But it did, and for whatever reason, I really wanted to try it. Right away. I made it the next day and I’ve been making it ever since. Even my husband, who loves granola but is very particular about it, can’t stop eating this. My parents blasted through their week’s supply in just a couple days. And it turned me into a granola person.
I love that this recipe is so easy, so quick, and produces a super tasty granola with great crunch and flavor. Give it a try, even if you’re not a granola person.
Super Chunky Granola
from Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2012
1/3 C maple syrup
1/3 C packed brown sugar
4 t vanilla extract
2 t ground cinnamon
½ t salt
½ C vegetable oil*
5 C old-fashioned rolled oats (do NOT use quick oats)
2 C (10 oz.) raw almonds (slivered, sliced, or chopped coarsely)
2 C (10 oz.) raisins or other dried fruit, chopped
* For extra nutty tastiness (or tasty nuttiness, as the case may be), substitute a nutty oil, like Roasted Walnut EVOO, in place of half — or even all — of the vegetable oil.
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the oil. Stir in the oats and almonds until thoroughly coated, and then pour this mixture onto the baking sheet. Spread it into a thin, even layer. Using a spatula (or your hand, covered in waxed paper) press down on the mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about an hour. Break apart the cooled granola into large chunks and gently stir in the dried fruit. Yields approx. 2 lbs (32 oz)
Step by Step Details
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. I use a jelly roll pan, with nice high sides, but any baking sheet with sides will do. Use a piece of parchment that’s a little larger than the baking sheet and fold in at the corners, so it fits nicely.
Combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk to combine, then whisk in the oil. And yes, you need the oil: without it, the granola will be really dry and brittle. Trust Cook’s Illustrated. They know stuff.
Whisk to a nicely blended consistency. It will thicken and turn a lovely caramel color.
Stir in the oats and almonds, scraping from the bottom and stirring until thoroughly coated.
Transfer the oat mixture to the lined baking sheet.
Spread into a thin, even layer.
Using a spatula (or your hand, wrapped in waxed paper) press down and compress the mixture until very compact. I like using my hand, so I can feel where the mixture was spread unevenly, or where it still needs compacting.
Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes. To promote even cooking, you can rotate the pan after the first 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool to room temperature, about an hour.
Gently lift and fold the parchment paper in to break apart the cooled granola into pieces of desired size.
Pour the broken granola into a large bowl, breaking into smaller chunks.
Stir in the dried fruit and combine well. I used unsweetened golden raisins and currants, but any dried fruit will work.
The original recipe says that this can be stored in an airtight container up to 4 weeks, but in our house, it’s usually long gone by then. Enjoy!