Conundrum Granola "Bar"

With flavors from peanut curry to maple bacon praline, Brett Aube’s intensely spiced Conundrum: Unordinary Granolas have garnered a cult local following. For our home brunch party, the oaty wunderkind brainstormed an entire granola “bar,” arranged so your guests choose from goodies like gooey, honey-salted walnuts, bourbon-plumped cherries, and candied cacao nibs, all ready to sprinkle over his toasty-nutty flax and oat mix sweetened with tart vanilla-cranberry syrup. It’s crunch-tastic. 

Cranberry-Vanilla Granola
(Serves 12+)

  • 7 cups oats
  • ½ cup flaxseed
  • 1 cup roughly chopped almonds 
  • 1 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts 
  • 1 cup cranberry vanilla syrup*  
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) melted butter
  • 1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches Jacobsen Salt Co 
  • flake sea salt
  • 1½ cups raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Mix: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, flax, and nuts in a large mixing bowl, add melted butter and stir to coat. Strain half of the syrup over ingredients and add pepper. Mix until incorporated and divide equally between two baking sheets. Shake gently to spread evenly.

Bake: Bake for 40 minutes or until deep golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes (switch sheets on racks halfway through) and sprinkling with sea salt 5 minutes before removing from oven. Scrape into a clean mixing bowl and let cool, then add dried fruit. Warm remaining cranberry vanilla syrup in small saucepan. Strain syrup over granola and gently mix. Let dry and store in an airtight container. Granola will keep for about a month.

*Cranberry Vanilla Syrup: Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 2 whole vanilla bean pods (split lengthways), and 20 coarsely chopped dried cranberries in small saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Cool, store in an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight with pods and cranberries (syrup tastes best if it sits for a few days before use). Will keep for 2–3 weeks in the fridge. 

7 Deadly Good Granola Add-Ins

» Yogurt: Aube digs Siggi’s “ridiculously thick,” not-too-sweet Icelandic-style skyr yogurts, as well as thinner, sweeter organic vanilla and plain yogurts from California’s Straus Family Creamery.

» Almond milk: Aube is partial to California brand Califia Farms’s line of creamy, non-GMO “almondmilks.” “One of my favorite things is to enjoy granola with Califia’s Coconut Almondmilk blend and cover it with a splash of port,” he says.

» Honey Walnuts with Sea Salt: Spread 1 cup of whole walnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until fragrant. While nuts are in the oven, heat 2 tbsp honey on low in a small saucepan until runny. Add walnuts to the saucepan and stir constantly until incorporated (about 2 minutes). Remove walnut-honey mixture from saucepan and pour back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle nuts with a pinch of Jacobsen Salt Co flake sea salt and let cool. Store nuts in an airtight container; they’ll keep for about a month.

» Maple Rosemary Pecans: Spread 1 cup of whole pecans mixed with half a sprig of plucked rosemary on a baking sheet  lined with parchment paper and toast at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until fragrant. While nuts are in the oven, heat 2 tbsp maple syrup and theneedles from the other half of the rosemary sprig in a small saucepan on low, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add pecans to the saucepan and stir constantly until incorporated (about 1 minute). Remove pecan-maple-rosemary mixture from saucepan, pour back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool. Store in an airtight container; they’ll keep for about a month.

» Burnside Bourbon Cherries: Place 3/4 cup dried cherries in airtight container and cover with Eastside Distilling Burnside Bourbon. Let cherries sit for a few days in a cool, dark spot before using. Will keep indefinitely.

» Dried Figs & Port: Slice 3/4 cup dried figs into thirds, place in an airtight container and cover with tawny port. Let figs sit for a few days in a cool, dark spot before using. Will keep indefinitely.

» Toasted Coconut: Spread 1 cup of unsweetened coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 4 minutes, or until golden.

» Cocanu Craque: Nothing is more decadent than the light, bittersweet crunch of local chocolate maker Sebastian Cisneros’s caramelized cacao nibs.

» Sweeteners: Right now, Aube’s stuck on Bee Local’s Portland Farmland honey, which sings with berry and floral notes, and a sharp lemony finish. Or he reaches for smoky, “almost campfire”-toned grade B maple syrup from New Hampshire’s Monadnock Sugar House. 

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