These are big, highly addictive, crunchy Malted Granola Clusters, which put the store-bought stuff to shame by being healthier, highly adaptable to whatever is in your pantry and, despite the long ingredients list, super easy to make.You can eat them with milk, straight from the jar are as snack, or, my favourite use, in my Protein Banoffee Pie Yoghurt.
If you read some of my baking recipes, you might have noticed my obsession with malt flavours by now. These granola clusters are no exception, as I was looking into the ingredients of my favourite store-bought granola brands and wondering what made them so addictive to me. Low and behold, I found malt. Of course, I thought, that’ll do it. My plan was, to make a healthier version with ideally less sugar, but no compromise on flavour. So, I used the “Andy Fairfield Granola” from Nigella Lawson as a template for the rough ratios of sweetener and oil to dry ingredients and went from there, as it uses a good bit of apple sauce to replace part of the sugar. I had made it before and liked it, but it was still not the flavour I was missing when I made my own instead of munching the supermarket versions.
My Adaptations for Weight Loss
I started by swapping the sweeteners around, using malt sirup and a bit of molasses, to get that addictive quality I was missing. I kept the honey (I love any dark honey for its complexity) for flavour but replaced most of the brown sugar in the original with malt sirup and xylitol, to lower calories a little. You do need part of the sweetener to be crystallised, to give some structure with the sirup contents, but you can use whatever you enjoy or have on hand here. You could use only malt sirup instead of the molasses, to simplify the recipe, but I found it adds another layer of complexity, which I enjoy. So, if you have it at home, do try it.
Using coconut oil, which firms up when cold, provided more crispness and I prefer the taste to vegetable oil, especially in sweet recipes.
In the dry ingredients I mixed jumbo oats for more bite, quick cook oats and almond flour (store-bought brands often use wheat flour for that purpose) to hold them together and toasted wheat flakes for added crunch.
The flakes are optional and can be replaced with another cup of either oats, but I had them around from bread making and love the texture.
Millet pops are another thing I had in my cupboards. You could also use rice or amaranth pops to the same effect, for adding a light crispness.
With all these changes, this is by no means a low-calorie snack, but as granolas go, we went from about 220 calories per 45g for my favourite shop bought version (which shall not be named) to about 180 calories for the same amount in mine. And any reduction is a win in my book.
How do I get Clusters?
Now my main reason for making my own was really wanting clusters. I tried plenty of recipes over time, most of which were nice, but also mainly crumbly, as they got stirred and mixed during the baking process, to create even browning. Which turned out to be exactly the difficulty I was running into during developing this one. My oven, as so many, does not heat evenly, but has hotter zones around 3 sides and a decidedly colder one in the middle. So just turning the tray meant, the middle would still be sticky, while the sides started to burn. Not ideal. Just stirring would have broken up my beloved clusters, so a better solution had to be found. I discovered it while thinking if I’d just pan fry the soft ones out of desperation.
Then I thought “Wait a second! Spatula!” and I started to carefully turn big parts of it upside down and inside out, like turning pancakes, so the browner parts ended up in the middle and down. I did this twice during the baking process, each after 10min, then, about 10min before they should be finished, I broke them into roughly the size I wanted them, mixed them around again, and baked for the remaining time.
The raisins or other dried fruit should be tossed with the clusters right after baking (use spoons or salad servers, to not burn yourself), so they don’t burn in the oven, but adhere to the still warm and slightly sticky clusters while they cool down. The Malted Granola Clusters turned out beautifully. Crunchy chunks with that addictive malt flavour, with a good conscience about the ingredients. That’s what I call success.
I Particularly loved these Malted Granola Clusters in my Banoffee Protein Pie Yoghurt, but they are equally good with milk and fruit and just snack right from the jar. I can rarely resist grabbing some, when they are anywhere in sight.
For more healthy breakfast ideas check out my super fluffy and delicious Sourdough Protein Pancakes with Wholewheat.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share. It helps me a lot. 🙂
Malted Granola Clusters
- 2 cups jumbo oats
- 1 cup quick cook oats
- ½ cup toasted wheat flakes can be substituted with oats
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ½ cup almond flour
- ¾ cup sesame seeds
- ¾ cup apple sauce or apple compote
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup molasses
- 4 tablespoons dark forest honey or other runny honey
- ½ cup malt sirup
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ cup xylitol
- 1 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
- 1 cup millet pops optional, but lovely crisp and light
- ½ cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil melted and cooled
- 1 cups raisins
- ½ cup chopped dates or a mix of dried fruit. I used up what I had and found the dates and raisins to be especially delightful
- ½ cup cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. I use a wooden spoon or spatula here.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheets. Press it down slightly with the back of a spoon or spatula to create a compact layer.
- Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, turning large, flat pieces of it with a spatula after every 10 minutes, like you would turn a pancake, so top, bottom and edges brown at the same rate. Check my notes on how and why.
- After 30minutes, take the trays out, carefully break into clusters (use spoons or forks here, to not burn yourself), toss once more and put back into the oven for another 10min or until golden brown and crispy.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and immediately mix in the raisins or other dried fruits, so they adhere to the still slightly sticky clusters. Nothing more frustrating than raisins that can only be found at the bottom of the jar!
- Let the granola clusters cool completely on the sheet. This will allow them to firm up and harden.
- Transfer the malted granola clusters to an airtight container for storage. They can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
I did this twice during the baking process, each after 10min.
Then about 10min before they should be finished, I broke them into roughly the size I wanted them, mixed them around again, and baked for the remaining time. Total Estimated Nutrition per 45g Portion:
Calories: Approximately 178-185
Fat: Approximately 7-9 grams
Protein: Approximately 4-5 grams
Carbohydrates: Approximately 26-29 grams
Fiber: Approximately 3-4 grams
Sugar: Approximately 10-12 grams