Eating granola for breakfast always feels like cheating, because it tastes like an oatmeal cookie to me. I don't buy it all the time, because the kind I like is pricey. When I was living in New Orleans, I used to get it in bulk from a co-op and it was a great deal. But even though I now live in Brooklyn, where co-ops rule, hilariously enough, I live nowhere near one.
So when I stumbled across this recipe at the NYT, I thought I'd make some. Using that recipe as a guideline, I made a few changes.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups pecans, broken up
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
and dried cherries
I combined all the dry ingredients in a big bowl and then started adding the wet ingredients. I thought the amounts of EVOO and maple syrup in the original recipe were excessive, and I prefer my granola less sweet. In order to reduce the amounts of those ingredients, I added a little olive oil and maple syrup and stirred those in, then I added some agave (in place of brown sugar) and vanilla. I kept stirring and testing it to make sure it tasted right, and I added more liquids until the texture was good. The oats need to all be coated, and slight clumping is ideal. But they shouldn't be saturated or stick together excessively.
I transferred the granola to baking pans with a slight lip and baked at 300 degrees, stirring every ten minutes or so, as the original recipe dictates. Once I got a nice even toasting, I let that mixture cool and dumped in some dried cherries, enough so that there's one cherry in every couple of bites. (One of my pet peeves with store-bought granola is that there's never enough fruit in there for my liking.)
The result is the best granola I've ever had, hands down. The cardamom is really the star of this recipe, as it infuses it with the most amazing, complex spice. Together with the pecans, vanilla, and cherries, it's just incredible. I'm so glad I made a triple batch, because this won't last long.