breakfast/ gluten free/ vegan

nutty gingerbread granola

This granola is a little nutty; “nutty” because it is full of nuts, and by full I mean the usual 3:1 oat to nut ratio has been totally turned upside down and rattled around. I wanted a super crunchy, nutty ‘nola, and this recipe is that wish incarnate.

The 50:50 amount of oats and nuts means there is a generous amount of healthy fat packed into each serving. In the process of adding an unordinary amount of nuts to the mix, I started to wonder if I should bother sticking to the rest of the conventional granola blueprint (particularly the part that commands dousing the oats in oil).

Oil, and particularly flavor and nutrient rich oils like flax, coconut, olive, and walnut, are all embraced in my recipes (and lets not forget the good dose of butter or ghee that makes a much-needed appearance from time to time). However, the heap of nuts in this granola provides a mountain of richness in its own right, thus supplanting much of the need that oil arguably serves in granola.

Despite how off-the-beaten-path this recipe may appear, it still benefits from a finishing coat of olive oil. A mere 2 tbsps of the golden liquid act as a culinary paint of sorts, coating the oats and nuts with a light glossiness that makes granola the crunchy stuff of legends.

Obviously, no one loves a sandy mess of a granola (unless, of course, we’re talking about the golden flakes of dust at the bottom of a bag; the dregs that provide a delicious, sweet dusting to a bowl of yogurt just when you thought you were all out of toppings).

In order to bypass the shattering, there-are-no-big-chunks-in-my-granola reality, I added ground flax seeds and a bit of water. When combined, the flax mixture turns into a “glue” (often used as an egg replacement in vegan baking), which helps nudge together the loose ingredients into more sizeable pieces.

You may find that this recipe is nutty in another sense, too. I didn’t pull the breaks on my love of molasses. In other words, this is a truly “gingerbready” granola recipe. I’m usually a little underwhelmed by the gingerbreadyness of recipes that claim to be, well, all about gingerbread, so I decided to take matters into my own hands (especially since it’s spring, and I only have ~7 months until prime gingerbread season). This recipe does not call for heaping amounts of golden syrup or granulated sugar; the sweetness is not overwhelming, which leaves room for the bright gingerbread flavors to shine.

If I’m starting to scare you a little, and the flavor, perhaps simply the sight, of deep, tar-dark molasses gives you goosebumps, fear not. You can most certainly swap out ~1-2 tbsps of the molasses for more maple syrup (or honey, agave, what have you). This recipe is not intended to induce molasses nightmares, although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that a river in Hell violently flows with the bitterly sweet, black goo.

Whether you choose to make your own tweaks or not, please do not skimp on the candied ginger bits! They are small, but mightily powerful in flavor, embellishing the granola with bits of sugar-crusted, edible sunshine. If the sun had a flavor, it would undoubtedly be fiery ginger, dontcha think?

nutty gingerbread granola

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (ensure gf if necessary)
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts,... (I like to roughly chop ~half of the nuts + leave the other half whole, for a bit of variety!)
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds + 2 tbsps water
  • 1/4 cup unsulphered molasses (if you aren't a huge molasses fan, replace ~1-2 tbsps with maple syrup for a bit more sweetness)
  • 3 tbsps maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener of choice
  • 2 tbsps olive oil (or other neutral-flavored veggie oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Generous dash or two ground cloves
  • Heaped 1/4 tsp kosher salt (add more to taste)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup candied/crystallized ginger bits

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 F. Stir together the ground flax seeds and water, and set aside to congeal.

2

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, spices, and salt. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the molasses, syrup, and oil. Drizzle the wet mixture over the dry ingredients in a few batches (this will ensure that the oats/nuts become evenly coated). Finally, pour in the flax "glue," stirring to combine until the resulting mixture is sufficiently stuck-together (if at this point it still appears to dry and crumbly, add a few drizzles of maples syrup as needed).

3

Pour the granola onto a lined baking sheet, and use a sturdy spatula to flatten it as best you can into a single layer (this will help create more large chunks). Bake the granola for ~12 minutes, after which time, remove it from the oven and use a spatula to flip over large sections of the granola sheet (this will inadvertently break it up into smaller chunks). Be sure to spread out the pieces across the whole baking sheet so there is more room for the granola to aerate.

4

Return to the oven for a further ~15 minutes, or until a subtle, spiced molasses smell emanates from the oven, and the granola is no longer wet to the touch (it may seem a little underdone or soft, but it will significantly crisp up as it cools down!). Allow to *fully* cool on the baking sheet (~45 minutes), before storing in a glass container until breakfast or snack time (or perhaps even dinner, because why not?!).

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