You want clusters in your granola?
Meet the biggest, baddest clusters in town!
This apricot gingerbread granola has it all. Soft, chewy, sticky apricot pieces. Lots of melted chunks of dark chocolate. All the warm, spicy, molasses’y flavour of gingerbread, but in grab-and-go granola form!
If you’ve been here before, you’ll have realised – when I like something, I really, really like it…
BTW, If you have dropped in before – welcome back, it’s lovely to see you again! If you haven’t been here before – welcome, it’s nice to meet you!
As I was saying…I have a fondness for certain ingredients (okay, some would call it a mild obsession…)
Oats are an absolute star ingredient in my kitchen – healthy, filling and so very versatile. I keep a stockpile of them in my pantry (a.k.a. two open shelves crammed full of bags of oats and flour) – I don’t even like to think what I’d do if I ever ran out (hastily adds them to the next shopping list…just in case…)
What I really love to do though, is show you how many different ways you can use these ingredients. There’s no sense in encouraging you to invest money in something, if I then leave you stuck with three quarters of it unused.
Wasting resources is not how we do things at SOKL!
This gingerbread granola recipe combines all of my favourite things in one – okay, except coffee…even I couldn’t figure out how to squeeze some in there. I guess you’ll just have to drink a cup of coffee while eating the granola – that’ll work!
The recipe itself is pretty simple (the best kind!). I usually use two bowls, one for dry ingredients, one for wet, as I tend to sieve the spices into the dry ingredients bowl (to make sure there are no clumps) and I make sure to stir the molasses into the wet ingredients fully before combining everything into one.
You will see from the pictures that I’ve added some dark chocolate chips (you’ve got to have dark chocolate in your breakfast granola, it’s practically compulsory!) and some chopped, unsulphured dried apricots.
Unsulphured apricots are a lot darker in colour (they are preserved by sun-drying rather than adding sulphur dioxide) and they taste amazing, with a rich, caramelised flavour (Andy describes them as Jelly Babies for grown-ups!) The ones I buy have been partially re-hydrated which means you get the best of both worlds – dark, caramel taste, but with a soft, chewy texture. I don’t know why doing less to an ingredient means it costs more, but if you can get hold of them, they’re worth the little bit extra…
It feels a bit strange to try and give you my tips and tricks for getting the granola to stick together and form those ever important clusters. After all, clumping is not the most appealing sort of word on a food blog, and usually something sticking isn’t considered a good thing in cooking terms…but here goes.
After a lot of experimentation, I’ve found the ratio of wet to dry ingredients stated to be the most successful at getting everything to cozy up together.
Although you can substitute ingredients – almond butter instead of cashew, or pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower, for best results I would recommend keeping the wet to dry ratio of ingredients similar to those stated.
As usual with all my recipes, I’ve kept the sweeteners to a minimum, opting in this instance for honey (you could also try brown rice syrup as a substitute, but I’m not convinced maple syrup would be sticky enough – let me know if you try it!).
Once the mixture is in the oven, it’s a case of keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t brown too quickly and otherwise leaving it alone as much as possible. I usually only disturb it twice – about half way through, I simply flip it over, a section at a time with a fish slice. Then about five minutes before the end of cooking, I repeat the flipping, to gently mix in the added chocolate chips and apricot pieces.
After you’ve flipped the mixture for the second time, push all the granola together so it forms one even layer. Bake for five more minutes, remove from the oven and then – the hardest bit for me – leave it alone until it’s completely cold.
As the granola cools it will crisp up, and the sticky apricot pieces and slightly melted chunks of chocolate will help the granola to stick together and form some pretty impressive clusters (I actually have to break the chunks into smaller sizes just to fit them into a kilner jar for storage!)
Warming, sweet-spicy cinnamon and ginger? Check. Bittersweet caramel molasses flavour? Check. Sticky-soft, chewy dried apricots? Check. Slightly melted chunks of dark chocolate? – Okay, I admit it, these are my favourite – I always head for these first! Check.
This apricot gingerbread granola is kinda difficult to measure for an accurate yield, I’m guessing about 5 – 6 cups worth. I’ve simply never managed to stop myself scooping up a few of the edge pieces as they cool and crisp up. Then a few of the sticky apricot pieces mysteriously disappear. Then the clusters filled with dark chocolate…
Before I know it, half the tray has vanished…
- 3 and ⅓ cups (340g) rolled oats *
- ½ cup (75g) sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup (40g) sesame seeds
- 2 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 and ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ cup (60ml) coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup (120ml) honey
- ½ cup (125g) cashew butter (I use smooth)
- 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses **
- ¼ cup (40g) dark chocolate chips
- ¾ cup (115g) dried apricots, diced
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3 (325F degrees). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ground cinnamon and ginger until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the melted coconut oil, honey, cashew butter and blackstrap molasses (if using). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well to combine.
- Turn out the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it out evenly (it will be a tight squeeze, but the close proximity is what helps it to clump together as it bakes). Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes, turning it over halfway through (I find flipping a section at a time with a fish slice is the best way to keep it sticking together). After 25 minutes, or when the top layer is a lightly toasted, golden brown colour, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top (the heat will just start to melt them) then the chopped, dried apricots, and flip the mixture over again, section by section, so the chocolate and fruit end up near the bottom. It looks a mess at this point, but trust me!
- Press everything together again so it forms an even layer (clumping again...) Bake for 5 more minutes, then allow to completely cool on the tray before breaking it into the size of clusters you prefer. Having contact with the air is what helps the granola to crisp up, so it's worth leaving it alone until the centre of the granola is completely cold.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
** If blackstrap molasses is too strong for you, replace with a lighter molasses (such as treacle) or simply use a couple of extra teaspoons of honey instead.