Along with having longer days (and therefore, more time to take pictures of food!), a favorite part of spring is when the eternal question of “what to eat for breakfast?” ceases. Strawberries have become reliably sweet and red; apricots, peaches and nectarines ripen and smell like summer; blue, black and raspberries lower their exorbitant prices. I bake a batch of granola to keep on the counter. The morning ritual becomes quick, simple, reliable; cool and light, yet nourishing, for warm mornings.
While flipping through David Lebovitz’ latest food pornographic book, Ready for Dessert, I came across a black sesame almond tuile recipe. I must have had that image in my mind when I came up with my tuile recipe, but I was intrigued by David’s use of toasted sesame oil in his cookies.
And don’t be surprised of you find yourself dipping into the jar for occasional noshes at all hours of the day.
Black Sesame Almond Granola
Adapted from Casey Hayden of Moose’s via Claire Legas
This granola takes a bit longer to dry out and crisp up than others, due to the honey and candied ginger, but it is well worth the wait. (For a crispier version, you can substitute 3/4-1 teaspoon powdered ginger for the candied ginger and 2 ounces of agave for the honey; though I prefer the flavor of the version posted below.)
To make this vegan, substitute coconut oil for the butter and agave for the honey. If you’re allergic to gluten, make sure your oats are certified gluten-free. All ounce measurements are by weight.
Makes about 5 cups
2 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) whole oats
1 cup (4 ounces) whole, raw almonds
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) coconut sugar (or light brown or unrefined cane sugar)
zest of 1 large naval orange
1/4 cup minced, candied ginger
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/ 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons (2 ounces) mild-flavored honey
1 teaspoon sea salt (yes, 1 teaspoon)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300º. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a second rimmed baking sheet and piece of parchment ready.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sugar, orange zest, ginger and black sesame seeds. In a small saucepan set over a low flame, melt together the butter, sesame oil, honey and salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour over the oat mixture, tossing to combine thoroughly.
Dump the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, and spread it into a thin sheet no thicker than an almond. Ideally, the edges will be slightly thicker than the center as they will bake faster. Lay the second piece of parchment over the granola, and place the second sheet pan on top, right-side up, making a little granola sandwich.
Slide the whole thing into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate and continue baking another 20 – 30 minutes, peeking under the parchment to make sure the edges aren’t burning, until the granola is a rich golden brown. It will still be soft, but should crisp up as it cools. (If the granola is still soft after cooling, break it up into large clumps and return it, uncovered, to a low oven [around 150º] and let it dry out for 30 minutes or so. If it still isn’t crisp, leave it, uncovered, in a turned-off gas oven with a pilot light, overnight.)
Let the granola cool completely, then break up into large sheets or clumps, and store in an airtight container for up to a month.
Enjoy over fruit and yogurt for breakfast, alone for a crunchy snack, or over ice cream for a decadent dessert.