the best granola


Okay, as it would appear, I am obsessed with Deb Perelman this month. Or, I am obsessed with her (and her RECIPES, people) just about every month, and now is just when I've chosen to reveal myself. You decide.

Also, I received her newly-released cookbook for my birthday about two months ago, which is surely not helping my case. Also the fact that I'm going to make these later today. Sheesh.

This week's Smitten-escapade comes to you in the form of the very best granola recipe, ever. Eaten or made, this is it. I realize what that says to you about many things, but try to trust us (you know, Deb and I) on this one. It's really, really good.

For what you'll need, see below. (Again, with slight additions, modifications, etc. Her recipe originally called for 3 cups of oats, and I had four. Rather than save that last cup for a weekend breakfast, I tossed it in and made the entire recipe a little larger. I digress.)

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
More or less one bag of Dang coconut chips (THE BEST)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup dark maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large egg whites, beaten
2 cups dried fruit (I used cherries, raisins, and blueberries.)

Alright, now most of the granola recipes I've tried in the past have involved pre-toasting your oats/other dry ingredients, have come out in a chewy, sticky bar form (which isn't a bad thing), and none of them have had that big cluster quality that you find in cereals. THAT's what I crave when it comes to granola. So when I saw page 26 of Deb's cookbook boasts "big cluster maple granola," well. I was already on board before I read any further.

So preheat your oven to 300 degrees, she says, and let's get started. Combine everything (YES, EVERYTHING. I LOVE RECIPES LIKE THIS) into a bowl -- probably the biggest bowl you've got. Except for the dried fruit and egg whites. Toss it up to make sure everything's evenly dispersed.

Don't mind the oat flecks on my Pyrex here. 

In a small bowl, whisk your egg whites until slightly frothy. These guys, as Deb and I have discovered, are the key to the cluster-quality of granola. Genius, I'm afraid. Why I've never stumbled across a recipe with this method sooner is beyond me. It came out generally perfect.

Stir your eggs into the granola mixture and try to get things as even as possible using a wooden spoon.

Spread this bowlful (which is smelling heavenly by now) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Your bake time will be about 45-55 minutes, or until your granola appears or feels (or tastes) "dry." Also important, make sure to rotate your pan about halfway through to ensure even baking. While you rotate, try to flip sections, carefully, as not to break up your future clusters. Despite rotation and flipping, one corner of my pan still got a little browner than the rest. But not burnt. And that's all that matters here.

Once it's evenly browned, transfer your pan to a wire rack to cool completely. This is the hardest part, obviously. I didn't make it quite completely to "cool." Cute Colin came home and remarked that the place smelled like breakfast. Yes, indeed it did.

Once it is cool, stir in your dried fruit before serving or storing. Deb tells us that this granola can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (or if frozen, even longer). Yeah, ours didn't quite make it past the three-day mark. I took half to work, keep the other half at home for yogurt parfaits and random snacking. So good. So, so good.