Simple Pleasures: Crunchy Brown Sugar Walnut Granola

How could you resist?  Good and good for you!

How could you resist? Good and good for you!

Though I am a pancake fan, my true breakfast love is cereal.  I could eat cereal for several of my six small meals a day and be totally content.  But I’d have to be in America, because Germany doesn’t have any of my favorites.

Sure, we have cereal here, but it’s of the Frosted Flakes variety (eh).  Germans usually go for muesli, and most stores stock something called Knusper (crispy) Muesli which Americans know as granola.

Mmmmmm, granola!  The best granola in all the world (according to yours truly) is Cascadian Farm Organic Oats & Honey.  It’s crunchy with the right amount of sweetness, neither overpowering nor bland.  I couldn’t possibly hope to replicate it, though it’s not for lack of trying.

I’ve made at least a half a dozen granola recipes (even this one in the crockpot!), but none of them came out crunchy.  They all either started out soggy or ended up there within a few days.  No good.  In my book, granola MUST have a good, tooth-endangering bite to it.

I’m stoked to report that the following recipe provides all the crunch you could want… and without any oil!  Now, how’s that for helping you pick up where you left off on those New Year’s resolutions?

Though this recipe is titled Crunchy Brown Sugar Walnut Granola, please give yourself permission to break the rules.  I would much prefer my granola to have pecans, but they’re scarce around these parts.  Don’t like nutmeg or can’t stomach wheat germ?  Leave it out.  Have a hankering for coconut, raisins, pumpkin seeds, or all three?  Toss ’em in!

The main thing to remember is that the more liquid you have, the more clumps you’ll end up with.  So if you go crazy adding extra ingredients, you might need to increase the liquid or decide you can live with less chunks.

Crunchy Brown Sugar Walnut Granola

5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 Tbl ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup raw or brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 275F.  Whisk together oats, walnuts, flax, oat bran, wheat germ, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Combine water and brown sugar, microwaving at 30 second – 1 minute intervals and stirring until dissolved.  Add maple syrup, vanilla, and salt to the sugar syrup.  Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients.  Stir to combine, making sure to coat the oat mixture as thoroughly as possible.  Pour onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Using a spatula, press granola down until flat.  Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, flipping carefully every 15 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container or zip top bag.  Granola should keep for one week at room temperature.

First, start with your oats.  Get the big'ns, none of that short quick oat stuff.

First, start with your oats. Get the big’ns, none of that short quick oat stuff.

Scoop some nuts.  Get a little sassy and don't measure exactly.

Scoop some nuts. Get a little sassy and don’t measure exactly.

Chop the suckers up as fine or as course as suits your fancy.

Chop the suckers up as fine or as course as suits your fancy.

Be kind to your insides - pile on the ground flax, oat bran, and wheat germ.

Be kind to your insides – pile on the ground flax, oat bran, and wheat germ.

Spice things up with a heaping scoop of cinnamon and a few shakes of nutmeg.

Spice things up with a heaping scoop of cinnamon and a few shakes of nutmeg.

It's time to bust out the sugar.  One cup may seem like a lot, but remember it's going to be watered down.

It’s time to bust out the sugar. One cup may seem like a lot, but remember it’s going to be watered down.  Pour the sugar and the water in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, the bigger the better.

Microwave the sugar water at one minute intervals.  Do not walk away!  These two get a little feisty, bubbling and foaming all over the place.  Remove from microwave, stir, and repeat until all the sugar is dissolved.

Microwave the sugar water at one minute intervals. Do not walk away! These two get a little feisty, bubbling and foaming all over the place. Remove from microwave, stir, and repeat until all the sugar is dissolved.

You will then find yourself in the presence of this drippy deliciousness.

You will then find yourself in the presence of this drippy deliciousness.

But we can't leave our mixture mediocre - no, we need to take it to a whole new level with the addition of pure maple syrup and...

But we can’t leave our mixture mediocre – no, we need to take it to a whole new level with the addition of pure maple syrup and…

pure vanilla extract.  Remember this?  Yep, still going strong one year later!

pure vanilla extract. Remember this? Yep, still going strong one year later!

After adding the maple syrup and vanilla extract to the brown sugar syrup, toss in some salt.  You can leave this out, but unlike most baked goods, I can taste this when I eat the granola, and the salty/sweet combo is a (delightful) kick in the pants each morning.

After adding the maple syrup and vanilla extract to the brown sugar syrup, toss in some salt. You can leave this out, but unlike most baked goods, I can actually taste the salt when I eat the granola, and the salty/sweet combo is a (delightful) kick in the pants each morning.

Give the liquid mixture a good stir, and the dry ingredients a quick whisk.  Then it's time to pour the sweetness alllllll over the oaty-nuttiness.

Give the liquid mixture a good stir, and the dry ingredients a quick whisk. Then it’s time to pour the sweetness alllllll over the oaty-nuttiness.

Mix it up, leaving no oat uncoated.

Mix it up, leaving no oat uncoated.

Pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or, in my case, broiler pan).

Pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or, in my case, broiler pan).

Smash it down, pressing it as if you were making granola bars.  This encourages clumping, a definite "yes" in my book.

Smash it down, pressing it as if you were making granola bars. This encourages clumping, a definite “yes” in my book.

Bake at 275F for 45 minutes - 1 hour.  I usually bake for 30 minutes, flip carefully as to not break up established clumps, and then return to the oven for another 15 minutes.  Occasionally, the granola needs another flip and a few more minutes.  Watch carefully, and don't let the oats and nuts burn.

Bake at 275F for 45 minutes – 1 hour. I usually bake for 30 minutes, flip carefully as to not break up established clumps, and then return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Occasionally, the granola needs another flip and a few more minutes. Watch carefully, and don’t let the oats and nuts burn.

For a super awesome snack or dessert, make a parfait!  Layer non-fat plain yogurt, homemade chocolate syrup, and your freshly baked brown sugar walnut granola.

For a super awesome snack or dessert, make a parfait! Layer non-fat plain yogurt, homemade chocolate syrup, and your freshly baked brown sugar walnut granola.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Simple Pleasures: Crunchy Brown Sugar Walnut Granola

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s