Tropical Granola Clusters
Remember how I recently got ambushed by a bag of Tropical Granola Clusters while paying an innocent visit to my local Bulk Barn? And how that incident sent me on a granola frenzy, which in turn resulted in my wanting to make all kinds of different varieties of homemade granola?
Yeah… that’s still happening!
I’m afraid I have to [shamefully] admit that the first batch I made is already long gone, and that while it was incredibly good, perhaps too good, even, it didn’t quite give me the satisfaction that I was after. You see, the thing is my tummy was demanding BIG CLUSTERS of granola, loads of tropical fruits, a cornucopia of creamy cashews… it DEMANDED the very cereal it had been enjoying before. What’s a girl to do against a stubborn tummy who won’t take no for an answer? I had no choice but to recreate the “other” cereal. So I went and studied the list of ingredients that made up the original.
Then I got busy figuring out what to leave out, what to swap, and what proportions to use.
Also, I went and did a little reading on the art of making granola at home, and more specifically, on how to get the cereal to cling into those big clusters I so fervently desired.
Turns out there’s one very simple rule to follow: you need to leave your granola alone, and by alone, I really do mean alone. You cannot mix your cereal EVER. You need to dump it onto the cookie sheet, press it down some and then don’t move it until it’s completely cooked AND cooled.
Of course, if you don’t care for the clusters , feel free to mix your cereal while it’s in the oven, as well as when you add the extra goodies to it, and even as it is cooling. But if like me you’re a fan of those big clusters of packed yummy goodness, you’ll have to be good and exert a great deal of self-control not to touch the cereal until the very end.
Think you can pull it off? Let’s see…
As always when using the oven, the first thing we need to do is preheat it; 325°F is the magic number today. Once that’s done, you’ll want to line a 13″ x 18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Next, you’ll need to measure and dump all the dry ingredients (that’s rolled oats, puffed quinoa, coconut flour, almond flour, finely shredded unsweetened coconut, dry roasted cashews, dried bananas, salt and cinnamon) into a large mixing bowl; mix well and set aside.
Next, put your coconut oil, raw honey, maple syrup and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Immediately pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir delicately until evenly coated.
Now you might want brace yourself: that’s the last stirring you’ll be doing today, so if you are feeling particularly “stir-happy”, you might want to give your cereal an extra stir right now… ‘cuz once that spoon goes down, that’s it. NO MORE STIRRING!
You done? Good!
Now dump the granola onto your prepared cookie sheet. Yes, yes, you can still use that spoon, just NO STIRRING!
Spread the cereal into an even layer and then press it lightly with a large spoon or spatula; send it to the oven for 20 minutes, or until the granola starts to turn golden brown and is deliciously fragrant.
Yes, that’s 20 minutes – no stirring!
In the meantime, prep your add-ins; that’ll keep your mind off stirring!
The apricots will definitely need to be chopped. The dried papaya and pineapple chunks, you might want to chop up a bit, if they’re too big for your liking. Likewise, you might want to slightly crush the larger banana chips with your fingers. The smaller ones I like to leave whole, but you might prefer to break them up, too. It’s all a matter of preference, really…
At the 20 minute mark, turn the oven off and take the granola out. Again, do not stir!
Sprinkle your delicious add-ins all across the top. DO NOT MIX IT IN!
Instead, you want to press the goodies down slightly with the tip of your fingers so they kinda stick to the warm cereal.
Return the pan to the oven; leave the door slightly ajar and let the granola sit in there, undisturbed, for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cereal to cool down completely. No, you can’t stir it just yet.
I know it’s hard, you’re probably very eager to see your actual granola come to life, but resist the urge to touch that pan with all your might. You want to leave your cereal absolutely undisturbed until it’s completely cool, which will take AT LEAST an hour. I strongly suggest that you find something to keep you occupied during that time, away from the kitchen and preferably out of the house…
When your granola is finally cold to the touch, break it up into clusters with your fingers and store in an airtight container, where it will keep for up to a few months.
What? Well, it could… I mean, technically, it could… I know it won’t, but really, it could. I swear.
Yeah, I hear you though… good luck with that! 😉
Tropical Granola Clusters
- Measure and dump the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl; mix well and set aside.
- Put the wet ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat.
- Immediately pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir delicately until evenly coated. Spread this mixture in an even layer onto your prepared cookie sheet, press it lightly and send to the oven for 20 minutes, or until the granola starts to turn golden brown and is deliciously fragrant.
- At the 20 minute mark, turn the oven off, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the add-ins across the top of the granola; press down slightly with your fingers and return the pan to the oven. Leave the door open slightly and let the granola sit in there for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cereal to cool down completely, then break it up into clusters with your hands. Store in an airtight container for up to a few months.