Hazelnut and Cacao Nib Granola (with Coconut and Sesame Seeds)

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I started with the recipe for Megan’s Very Best Oatmeal, of course. You know how roasting nuts brings out their flavor? They are totally enhanced with some heat, especially when we’re talking hazelnuts or walnuts. Megan figured out the same move works for oatmeal. Toast the oats in melted butter until they get a little color and start smelling good. This one move makes a big difference in your everyday oatmeal. She also has a different method for cooking the oats, a sort of steam method requiring less stirring, which makes things easier when I’m running around in the morning trying to get ready.

But when I think of Megan Gordon of A Sweet Spoonful and Marge, I first think of granola. I followed some of her granola tips to get this olive oil granola right, and now she’s led me to a new favorite. Hazelnut and Cacao Nib Granola from her cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings.

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This recipe drew me in with its use of cacao nibs, but once I read through the ingredient list, I decided to make it as soon as I had the chance. A batch of this granola boasts sesame seeds, hazelnuts, coconut flakes, cardamom, maple syrup, and it finally gave me a reason to open that jar of coconut oil. It never occurred to me to stir sesame seeds into granola, but it’s one of the best things about this recipe. They add an earthiness that plays really well with the cardamom. Every time I bit into a good cluster, it reminded me of those sesame candies my dad loves.

Not that this granola is very sweet. The flavor here dances along that salty-sweet line, which is what I love about Megan’s granola and about making my own granola at home. Most grocery store granola tastes far too sweet and lacks the flavor you’d hope for. This is the most interesting granola I’ve tried, and now it’s my breakfast main squeeze.

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hazelnut and cacao nib granola

This is the most interesting granola I’ve tried. Danny and I can’t stop eating it. I wouldn’t have thought to include sesame seeds in granola, but for me, it’s what makes this one so special. They add an earthy note and when you get a good cluster in this batch, they remind me of those sesame candies my dad adores. If you don’t have coconut oil, you could use olive oil for this recipe, but try the coconut. It makes the granola wonderfully fragrant and adds a subtle kind of sweetness. I accidentally added the hazelnuts in along with the pecans, and it turned out fine. This recipe is adapted from Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon.

3 cups (300 grams) rolled oats
1/2 cup (60 grams) raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup (50 grams) raw pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup (35 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup (60 grams) raw hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (25 grams) cacao nibs

Heat oven to 325°F.

Stir together the oats, sesame seeds, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom in a large bowl.

Stir in vanilla, maple syrup, and coconut oil using a spatula or your hands, making sure the ingredients are evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a spatula to press granola down in an even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and stir in coconut and hazelnuts. Return to the oven and bake until the granola is fragrant and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through for even baking. Let cool completely in the baking sheet. This helps the granola crisp up. Stir in the cacao nibs. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks or in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. The granola can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes 6 to 7 cups.

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