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For perfectly crunchy granola, you have to try making it in an air fryer

By Justin Lee
Scott Suchman/The Washington Post

I find granola a truly inspired concept. It’s oats at their best, not mushy nor lost in an anemic energy bar.

I can eat it sitting down, standing up, on-the-go or whenever the craving beckons (read: all the time).

But as much I love granola, it has never been as easy as ABC to get the ideal crunch I was after. Then I discovered the key to low-fuss granola: make it in the air fryer, which turns out morsels that exceed even my crunchiest dreams.

Adding egg whites into the equation – a technique popularised by Liz Prueitt in Tartine All Day – transforms the pieces into fun-size boulders. Each chunk will vary in size, but I think that adds to the appeal.

A simple granola is fine and good, but toss in rich chocolate cut with tingly aromatics, such as chilli oil, ginger and cinnamon, and you get a sweet heat I liken to a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. Why stop there? For more texture, I add whole almonds and big, unsweetened coconut flakes, too. Go ahead and experiment with myriad dried goods occupying your pantry.

Once you’ve designed your granola, line the basket of your air fryer with parchment paper with enough overhang to use it as a sling for easy removal. Bake it for 20 minutes then let it cool inside the appliance for an additional 30 minutes for audibly crunchy clusters that quicken the heartbeat of any granola lover.

Decidedly not too sweet, and mildly savoury, this air fryer granola is glorious in many applications.

Pile clusters atop your morning yoghurt with fruit such as bananas, berries or pomegranate seeds. Finish a salad or soup as you would with croutons. For dessert, crumble on vanilla ice cream. Gift it by the jarful, or eat it by the fistful.

Whichever path you choose, know this: there’s no wrong way to air fry granola.

Air fryer chocolate chilli crispy granola

Rich and chocolatey, yet spicy and savoury, this homey granola calls to mind a cup of Mexican hot chocolate (Scott Suchman/The Washington Post)

Makes: 16

Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Rich and chocolatey, yet spicy and savoury, this homey granola calls to mind a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. Oats are paired with almonds, coconut, chocolate chips (or chunks) and crystallised ginger, and then placed in an air fryer. The mixture crisps up a bit more when using an air fryer vs a conventional oven. Also, no need to preheat the air fryer. The addition of egg whites and the process of cooling the granola inside the appliance creates audibly crunchy clusters.

Pile those clusters sky-high atop yoghurt with fruit, such as bananas, berries or pomegranate seeds. Finish a salad or soup as you would with croutons. For dessert, crumble on vanilla ice cream. The granola makes a great gift, too.

Storage notes: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Ingredients:

50g whole unsalted and roasted almonds

56g semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

25g unsweetened coconut flakes

40g candied ginger, finely diced if in large chunks

20g unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tbsp (45g) maple syrup

2 tbsp (28g) packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp (30g) neutral oil, such as canola oil

2 tsp (10g) chilli crisp

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp fine salt

160g old-fashioned rolled oats

1 large egg white (see variations below)

Method:

In a medium bowl, toss the almonds, chocolate, coconut flakes and candied ginger to combine.

Line the basket of your air fryer with parchment paper with enough overhang to use it as a sling.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, maple syrup, sugar, oil, chilli crisp, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the oats until fully coated. Add the egg white and stir until well combined. Add the almond mixture and stir until well combined.

Spread the granola mixture onto the lined air fryer basket in a thin, even layer.

Set the air fryer to 150C and bake for 20 minutes, or until the granola is deep brown and feels dry to the touch.

Turn off the air fryer and let the granola sit in the closed basket for about 30 minutes, or until slightly cooled and hardened. Carefully lift the granola using the parchment overhang and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Then, break into big chunks. Serve, or transfer to an airtight container.

Variations:

Oven version: position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 160C. Line a large, rimmed baking tray with parchment. Spread the granola mixture in a thin even layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, gently stirring halfway and spreading evenly again, until the granola is a deep brown and feels dry to the touch. Turn the oven off and let it rest for 30 minutes in the oven. Transfer the baking tray to a wire rack until completely cooled, then break into big chunks. Serve, or transfer an airtight container.

Vegan version: Replace the egg white with 30g of aquafaba from a can or home-cooked beans, such as chickpeas, and swap vegan chocolate chips for the semisweet chocolate.

Nutrition information per serving | Calories: 136; total fat: 7g; saturated fat: 2g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 88mg; carbohydrates: 18g; dietary fibre: 3g; sugar: 7g; protein: 3g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

© The Washington Post

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