Gingerbread Granola

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My friend Kelly requested a gingerbread granola recipe a couple of weeks ago, because she was tired of spending too much money on the store-bought stuff she loves so much. I ended up making two versions of it: Version I is slightly milder in flavor than Version II, making it closer to a ginger-flavored granola than an actual gingerbread granola. If that makes sense. Kelly tried Version II, and both her & her son Mac gave it two thumbs way up. Four thumbs way up total, all the way from Canada. That’s not nothing. (She also said it tastes even better than store-bought. Damn straight!)

This is the (freakishly illustrated) crystallized ginger I used. It melted slightly while baking, sharing its gingery flavor with all the granola chunks. How generous of it.

The reason why I love using nut butter in granola recipes is that it makes for chunkier, more filling, and slightly more protein-rich granola clusters. I was all set to use mild-flavored raw cashew butter, but my local Trader Joe’s doesn’t appear to carry it anymore. I ended up using unsalted peanut butter instead, and was relieved to find that the flavor wasn’t overwhelming at all. So if your wallet doesn’t allow for costlier cashew butter, don’t be afraid to use (unsalted) peanut butter, or even raw almond butter in its place.

When I’m in the mood for a warm breakfast, I like to add enough unsweetened almond milk to generously cover a good portion of this granola, and heat it up either in the microwave or on the stove so that it thickens up just a little and becomes even more filling and appropriate for winter time. Not that I really remember what actual winter feels like, since it was well over 70°F just last Wednesday…

Ginger(bread) Granola, Version I:

1/4 cup (84 g) organic agave nectar or (60 ml) pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) regular molasses
1/4 cup (48 g) Sucanat
1/2 cup (128 g) cashew butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) grapeseed oil or other neutral-flavored oil
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
70 g crystallized ginger, chopped small
4 cups (320 g) rolled oats
1/4 cup (30 g) tapioca (or other) starch

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C or gas mark 2). Have a large rimmed baking sheet handy, which you can line with parchment paper if you prefer; I never bother.
In a large bowl, combine the agave, molasses, Sucanat, cashew butter, vanilla, oil, salt, spices, and chopped crystallized ginger. Stir to combine.
Add the oats and starch on top. Stir to thoroughly coat.
Evenly place the granola on the sheet, and bake in 10-minute increments, stirring after each increment, for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, until the granola looks dry and just slightly browned.
Let cool on the sheet. The granola will crisp up as it cools. Let cool completely. Break large granola chunks into smaller pieces before storing in an airtight container.
The granola will keep for up to two weeks at room temperature.

Yield: About 6 cups

Gingerbread Granola, Version II:

1/2 cup (120 ml) regular molasses
1/4 cup (48 g) Sucanat
1/2 cup (128 g) cashew butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) grapeseed oil or other neutral-flavored oil
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (ginger powder)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
70 g crystallized ginger, chopped small
4 cups (320 g) rolled oats
1/4 cup (30 g) tapioca (or other) starch

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C or gas mark 2). Have a large rimmed baking sheet handy, which you can line with parchment paper if you prefer; I never bother.
In a large bowl, combine the molasses, Sucanat, cashew butter, vanilla, oil, salt, spices, and chopped crystallized ginger. Stir to combine.
Add the oats and starch on top. Stir to thoroughly coat.
Evenly place the granola on the sheet, and bake in 10-minute increments, stirring after each increment, for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, until the granola looks dry and just slightly browned.
Let cool on the sheet. The granola will crisp up as it cools. Let cool completely. Break large granola chunks into smaller pieces before storing in an airtight container.
The granola will keep for up to two weeks at room temperature.

Yield: About 6 cups