Secret ingredient makes this take on granola a delicious snack or breakfast
If you’re looking for a great way to showcase the fruits of summer that are coming into season — think berries, cherries, peaches and plums — look no further than this week’s recipe for Legendary Granola Clusters.
I started making my own granola from scratch about four years ago and shared the recipe here in our Nov. 30, 2016, column. That recipe featured a homemade granola with cranberries and almonds, and the response I received upon its publication made it clear that it was a hit with our readers.
I hope this new granola recipe has the same success, because I am in love with it. While my original recipe was a standard loose-form granola primarily intended to be enjoyed as a breakfast cereal, these Legendary Granola Clusters are more versatile thanks to their heartiness and crunchy texture. They can be served as a cereal or healthy snack, and they are the perfect partner for a fruit and yogurt breakfast parfait.
I first encountered granola clusters last fall at a breakfast event where the hosts arranged a parfait bar featuring these crunchy nuggets alongside vanilla yogurt, fresh berries and a host of other toppings including almonds, dried fruit, toasted coconut and even chocolate chips. I loaded up my glass with layers of the clusters surrounded by dollops of yogurt and berries.
I’d had granola parfaits before but had always considered them a kind of basic breakfast option — until I tried one with granola clusters. Their crunchy-sweet nature was the perfect balance for the mellow yogurt and bright, fresh fruit. As soon as I returned home, I set about working up a recipe to create the clusters I’d so enjoyed, which happened to be produced by Trader Joe’s.
My initial attempts were utter failures as I tried myriad ways to get my granola to cluster, including adding more honey, syrup and/or oil — only to find a sticky, gloppy mess that was definitely not clustered. Traditional granola is easy to make, but clusters had me stymied until I discovered the secret ingredient that pulls everything together: an egg white. The simple addition of a well-beaten egg white not only helps the ingredients bind together, but also helps create the lovely crunch that makes these clusters so snackable.
Simple and delicious, these granola clusters are also a great representation of our region’s agriculture as they are made with ingredients from five of North Dakota’s top crops including oats, honey, ground flaxseed, canola oil and brown sugar (hence the name Legendary Granola Clusters).
I recommend using old-fashioned rolled oats versus quick oats, as their hearty composition yields a better cluster. My personal favorite are the oats produced locally by Doubting Thomas Farms, which you can find in Fargo at the Red River Market, Bernbaum’s, Swanson Health and Prairie Roots Food Co-Op.
Healthy, easy to make and utterly craveworthy, these Legendary Granola Clusters are the perfect way to start, or end, your day. Enjoy!
Legendary Granola Clusters
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup toasted ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup honey (add more as desired)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large or extra-large egg white
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients but the egg white and toss until evenly coated. In a small bowl, use a whisk or fork to beat the egg white until frothy. Pour the egg white over the granola mixture and stir until evenly distributed.
Spread the granola mix onto the parchment-lined baking sheet; for the best clusters, the layer should be somewhat chunky, so resist the urge to smooth over the top of the granola. Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake the granola for 45 to 55 minutes, rotating pan from front to back, if needed, to ensure even baking.
After 25 minutes, remove the baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to carefully turn the granola over in large sections, being careful to break them up as little as possible to ensure that clusters result. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for remaining time, or until the granola is dry to the touch and an even golden-brown color.
Place pan on a wire cooling rack. Cool granola completely, then use your hands to break up the granola sections into large clusters.
To store: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
Ground flaxseed has a short shelf life when stored at room temperature (about 2 to 3 weeks) and can quickly go rancid after that. For best results, place the ground flaxseed in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 months, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.