Tahini granola with date molasses, apricots + figs

The granola conundrum: light and crisp vs clusters.

Overall I prefer my granola light and crisp, and my usual recipe using olive oil as the fat + maple syrup as sweetener is great for this. But sometimes I want some of those satisfyingly snackable clusters, too. And most granolas that form clusters tend to be heavy, the clusters leaning toward either the sticky (no good in my book) or tooth-breakingly hard (definitely no good in anybody’s book).

Happily I’ve hit upon a formula that offers the best of both worlds. With tahini (sesame butter) and date molasses acting as the “glue,” this granola is perfectly light and crisp, but also brings those coveted clusters in spades.

Aside from the ingredients themselves, the other trick to mastering the light-and-crispy clusters game is to bake the granola low and slow and leave it be — i.e., no stirring, cool it in the baking pan, and only once it’s cool break it into clusters (some nibbling around the edges of the pan is inevitable and won’t adversely affect the end results).

With tahini and a plethora of nuts and seeds (far outnumbering the rolled oats, actually) this is a protein-rich mix you can feel good about eating for breakfast or as a snack at any time of day. Chopped dried apricots and figs added to the baked and cooled granola are a perfect complement to the crisp oat mixture, offering both sweetness and chew factor.

A couple of additional stats: this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and free of refined sugars. If you’d like to make it grain-free, simply omit the rolled oats and bump up the amounts of the shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds and sunflower seeds to make up for the lost volume.

Tahini granola with date molasses, apricots + figs
Yield: approximately 6 cups of granola

1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sliced or roughly chopped almonds
3/4 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons date molasses
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried unsulfured apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried figs (I used small, black mission figs), stems removed, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or Silpat.

Combine oats, coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a separate bowl combine tahini, date molasses, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Whisk to combine. Pour tahini mixture over oat mixture and toss gently with a wooden spoon until evenly coated.

Pour oat-tahini mixture onto prepared baking sheet, using the back of a wooden spoon to spread it into an even layer. Bake for 1 hour, without stirring, rotating pan halfway through. If the granola seems to be browning too quickly around the edges, reduce heat to 275F.

Cool granola in pan on a wire rack. When completely cooled, break into smaller pieces. Add apricots and figs and toss to combine. Store in airtight container(s) and eat within 2 weeks. The granola also freezes well for longer storage.

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