There is something very seductive about darkness. Dark starry nights, dark roasted coffee, deep dark chocolate. For me, darkness in food translates to something touched by fire, scorched, flavor packed, and intensely rich. Some of my favorite desserts are what I call “Dark” desserts. Meaning it is made with either smoked, or darkened colored ingredients.
You wouldn’t expect that kind of flavor complexity to describe Granola, but this recipe makes it possible. Browned butter, Roasted Almonds and Pecans, Black Strap Molasses, Raw (Local) Crucian Honey, and warm Caribbean spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, make this roasted cereal the perfect welcome to the day food.
Did I mention that there is also a double hit of my-all-time-favorite-to-cook-with, sable colored, Cruzan Black Strap Molasses Rum? I sneak this rum into almost every “Dark” treat I make. The idea of rum for breakfast is a bit shocking, but let your sleepy morning heart be still; the alcohol burns off during baking. And in its wake, it leaves behind the subtle smokey flavor of the burnt, thick and rich, black strap molasses.
My husband hates oatmeal. But this is the only way I have been able to get him to consider eating anything remotely related to the cereal. Serve it over yogurt and fruits, or simply with a cold splash of organic milk on a warm Crucian morning.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the butter in a small pot and let it melt slowly until the milk solids drop to the bottom and darken. Your nose will tell you when its ready, as it will suddenly smell very fragrant and nutty. Be careful not to let it burn. This is a long and slow process, but don’t give in to the temptation to walk away from it. Remember, you simply want to brown the solids in he butter, not burn it. Black butter is bad. Browned butter is very, very, good!
In a large mixing bowl add the spices: Orange zest, grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, almond extract, salt, allspice.
Add the browned butter and canola oil.
Next add the unsweetened coconut flakes. I make most of my own coconut milk, so I usually have some of the remaining grated fresh coconut on hand. If you happen to have some, by all means use it! If not, using some unsweetened coconut flakes will work just as well. This recipe was made with the fresh coconut. It might make a slight difference with another type, but I haven’t met the coconut I didn’t love!
Chop the pecans and almonds roughly and add to the butter mixture.
Add the molasses, rum, brown sugar, and honey and stir until combined.
Finally fold in the oatmeal and make sure that it is thoroughly coated.
Spread the mixture evenly and thinly onto two parchment covered baking sheets.
Bake the granola until it is a rich, island-colored, mahogany brown. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Start checking for doneness around the first 20 minutes of baking. It may take a little more or less time depending on your preference. As I said before, I have a great affinity for dark roasted foods! So, I take mine to the edge of burnt and then take a couple steps back!
Be sure to turn the mixture over at various times throughout the baking process. This will help to expose all the oat grains to the warmth of the oven, and dry out the liquid ingredients. This makes the mixture crunchy and brings out all the flavors the darkness has to offer!
This granola ends up on the mildly sweet side. It lacks the aching sweetness of the store-bought versions. If you prefer yours a bit sweeter, you can increase the amount of brown sugar. Or simply add a touch of honey to your milk and cereal.
You can also add dried mangoes, raisins, and other dried tropical fruit AFTER baking and cooling for a great trail mix. Think of this as a basic granola recipe with great food “bones” to stack other flavors on, or to stand firmly on its own!
A cool bowl of yogurt, a swirl of local honey, a few berries or other island fruits, and a small glass of mango juice. Is there a better way to start a Crucian morning (even if you’re not on the island)? Enjoy!!