By Rose McAvoy
The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play … Actually it was raining sideways and Mr. Second Helpings had to go out and prop up part of our aging back fence with a spare 2×4. The fence was not the only thing that needed attention. The Little Helping was awash in energy that had to be channeled into something productive before it became something destructive.
I’ve been thinking lusty thoughts about trying a new approach to granola since Christmas Eve when I received a baggie of granola, heavily laced with heavenly cardamom, from my very dear friend (I didn’t share). Her granola didn’t come in clusters but she leaned in close and — in a tone reserved for gossip and conspiracy — shared her newly learned secret. The key to making granola that sticks together in irresistible little clumps is — egg whites.
Smack me on the forehead with a vintage serving spoon! Of course it is!
I’m not lying when I say I almost halted production of gingerbread waffles to make a batch of granola clusters right then and there (ask my husband, I’d do that).
I managed to swallow the urge to experiment and carried on with brunch. Meanwhile the desire to give this new cooking method a try continued to simmer in the back of my mind. So, when we woke up to a dark and stormy day in desperate need of an activity, I went right to work and set up the project to simultaneously give The Little Helping an activity and exorcise the pesky bee in my bonnet.
Even when I have a good idea of how I’d like to execute a new recipe I find it helpful to refer to those who have trod before me. I always assume my ideas are unoriginal and a quick search of the internet generally confirms my suspicions. Sure enough, I quickly located a recipe for Big Cluster Maple Granola, made with egg whites, on the Serious Eats website reprinted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Using the Smitten Kitchen method as a guide I let The Little Helping take over most of the steps, jumping in only as needed to keep the ingredients from spilling out of their bowls.
When we were done his energy was slightly less frantic and I was intrigued by the results of this new method for making granola. To round out the day, I sent all three of the boys off to the library and enjoyed a rare hour of personal time. Win-Win-Win!
Cinnamon Granola Clusters
Prep Time: 15 Min, Cook Time: 55 Min, Yields: Approximately 20 1/2 cup servings
- 3 cups Uncle Sam Original cereal*
- 1/4 cup flax meal
- 1 tablespoon brewers yeast**
- 1 cup walnut halves (chopped)
- 1/2 cup almond slices
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- 3/4 cup raw agave
- 2 tablespoon grape seed oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup raisins
- Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Measure the cereal into a large bowl and stir in the flax meal and brewer’s yeast. Then add the remaining ingredients excluding the egg white and raisins. Stir gently to combine. In a small bowl whisk the egg white into a foam then stir the foam into the granola mixture.
- Turn the granola out onto your prepared baking sheet, spread into a roughly even layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes.
- Stir/flip the granola three times while it cooks – your kitchen should quickly begin to smell like a cinnamon roll factory. Add the raisins with the final stir. When finished, remove the pan from the oven but do not stir the granola. Allow everything to cool in place, it will harden as it cools.
- Once it has cooled, break the granola into snackable chunks, then store it in an air tight container for a week or two.
*You may replace the cereal with 3 cups of rolled oats.
**Brewers yeast is included to give the granola a nutrient boost but may be omitted without effecting the final consistency.
The clusters are brittle. You will have lots of unclustered granola good for sprinkling on yogurt, applesauce, ice cream, etc.
Approximate nutrition information 172 calories, 8.4 g. fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 3.8 g. protein