If you’re anything like me, you love snacks. Just a little something to nibble on while you do something else. And as big a sweet tooth I have, I find myself wanting salty snacks more than anything. Now, it just isn’t in me to ignore my sweet tooth, so I set out to make a crunchy snack that’s both sweet and salty. Enter my hot and sweet granola. Big chunks just right for nibbling on or throwing on a salad. Sweet enough for my sweet tooth and savory enough to satisfy my need for salty snacks with just a kick of heat. Sounds like my kind of snack!
For this granola, I wanted it to be in nice big clumps, instead of being really loose like breakfast cereal. This meant adding fat. Without fat, the sugar in your granola will be dry and brittle, causing your granola to crumble instead of being crisp and crunchy. I chose to use coconut oil in mine, which will add in some extra nutritional value. The amount of coconut flavor will vary depending on how much the oil is refined. I got mine at Trader Joe’s and it’s minimally processed, so you get a lot of coconut in the raw oil. I haven’t found it to be overwhelming in the finished product though which, if you know me, is good because I really don’t like coconut. So if picky eater Colleen likes it, it’s probably fine.
Another way to ensure nice big chunks is to wait until the granola is cooled to break it up. Most recipes will tell you to stir the granola throughout baking it so it will bake evenly and be more like a cereal. If that’s the texture you want, by all means stir your granola. It’s great in yogurt that way. But not so much for a utensil free snack. (Can you tell I like to eat with my hands?) By pressing your mix firmly into your pan and letting all that sugary goodness cool in one big chunk you can break it into as large a piece as you want! #Omnomnom
Note: I used 6 oz slivered almonds, 3 oz shelled pistachios, and 1 oz pine nuts. I just used dried cranberries because that’s what I keep on hand.
Mix first 10 ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir well. Set aside.
Mix oats, nuts, and fruit in a large bowl. Pour honey mix over the top and mix well. It'll look like it's not enough, but just keep mixing until everything is coated. Break up any large chunks with your hands.
Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour your mix into the sheet. It'll look like it won't fit, but it does. Spread it out evenly and press firmly into the pan. It helps to spray your hands with pan spray to prevent sticking.
Bake at 325 for 40, turning pan halfway through baking, but don't stir. Granola will be an even golden brown but still feel loose.
Allow to cool completely before breaking into chunks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature. Plastic zipper bags work fine for this.