Cherry-Almond-Mahlab Granola

Cherry-Almond-Mahlab Granola

Makes about 9 cups.

This granola is something of a flavor family reunion: cherries, almonds, and mahlab are botanically related, part of the Rosaceae (rose) family. Each is aromatically distinct but all share floral and fruity notes.

Mahlab is the seed kernel of a wild, sour-cherry called the St. Lucy — it is used as a spice throughout the Middle East, often in baking. Always buy this spice whole, store it in the fridge, and grind it just before using to preserve its singular flavor.

Dry ingredients:
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups (about 8 ounces) sliced raw almonds
¼ cup un-hulled sesame seeds
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mahlab, ground

Liquid ingredients:
½ cup neutral oil (avocado or canola)
¾ cup mild honey

For finishing:
1¼ cups (about 8 ounces) dried Montmorency (tart) cherries, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325º F. Grease a rimmed 13” x 18” baking sheet (or spray it with baking spray).

Put the dry ingredients into an extra-large bowl and toss to mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Put the liquid ingredients into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and warm them in the microwave for 45 seconds at half power. (Alternately, warm them in a small sauce pan set over medium-low heat.)

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients; stir until everything is evenly moistened. Scoop the mixture onto the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer covering the pan from corner to corner. 

Bake until the granola is golden, 45–50 minutes, stirring every 10-12 minutes (see
'Tips' below). 

Transfer the pan from the oven to a cooling rack. Let the granola cool for about 15 minutes. Use a spatula or large spoon to break the granola into chunks and turn them so that the underside cools more quickly. Sprinkle the cherries over the granola and let the granola cool completely before packing it into air-tight containers for storage.

Store at room temperature for two weeks or freeze for up to a month.

Tips: For stirring, take the pan out of the oven. Use a large spoon to scoop the granola away from the edges, mound it in the center of the pan, and then spread it out once again. To test for crispness, take a little bit out of the oven and let it cool. It’s OK to use more nuts, we often use a whole 10-ounce bag, which eliminates a two-ounce remnant getting lost in the freezer!

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