Why It Works
- The moisture from ripe bananas will tenderize the oats, wheat germ, flax, and chia.
- Soaking the grains expresses their natural starch, creating clumpy nuggets.
- Sugar helps the grains to crisp but interferes with water absorption in oats, so it's not added until later on.
- A unique blend of dried fruit and nuts provides an addictive mix of flavors, colors, and textures.
This recipe combines everything we love in banana bread—its mellow flavor, gentle spice, and nutty crunch—into a tender yet crisp granola that's loaded with dried fruits, whole grains, crunchy seeds, and macadamia nuts. Even better, it works best with a bunch of ultrablack bananas (whether forgotten on the counter or lost somewhere in the freezer). It's perfect over a bowl of yogurt for breakfast, but it's a bang-up topping for ice cream and banana pudding as well.
- For the Granola:
- 14 ounces banana purée, from very black bananas, fresh or frozen (about 1 3/4 cups; 400g)
- 1/2 ounce vanilla extract (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
- 3/4 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 12 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, not instant, quick, or steel-cut (about 3 1/2 cups; 340g)
- 1 1/2 ounces toasted wheat germ, such as Mother's (about 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon; 40g)
- 1 ounce ground flaxseeds, such as Spectrum (about 3 tablespoons; 30g)
- 1/2 ounce chia seeds, such as Nutiva (about 1 heaping tablespoon; 15g)
- 7 ounces plain or toasted sugar (about 1 cup; 200g)
- 3 ounces refined or virgin coconut oil, melted (about 1/3 cup; 85g)
- For the Mix-Ins:
- 2 ounces raw pumpkin seeds (about 1/3 cup; 60g)
- 2 ounces raw walnuts (a shy 1/2 cup; 60g)
- 2 1/2 ounces roughly chopped macadamia nuts (about 1/2 cup; 70g)
- 2 1/4 ounces pecan pieces (about 1/2 cup; 65g)
- 1 teaspoon neutral oil, such as safflower
- 1/8 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 4 ounces dried mangos, sliced into bite-size pieces (about 1/2 cup, firmly packed; 115g)
- 3 ounces dried tart cherries (about 1/2 cup; 85g)
- 2 ounces dried blueberries (about 1/3 cup, firmly packed; 55g)
- Freeze-dried bananas, to taste, from brands, such as Natierra
For the Granola: In medium bowl, combine banana purée, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, mashing with fork until very smooth. Alternatively, this can be done in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Add rolled oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, and chia, tossing with a flexible spatula to combine. Cover with plastic and set aside until oats are stiff and dry, about 30 minutes. Stir in sugar; cover and let stand until well dissolved, about 30 minutes more. Finally, stir in melted coconut oil.
For the Mix-Ins: While oats are soaking, adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C). Combine pumpkin seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans on parchment-lined half-sheet pan; toast until fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl, toss with a teaspoon of oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir in dried mangos, dried cherries, and dried blueberries.
To Bake the Granola: Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (149°C). After stirring in melted coconut oil, scrape granola onto parchment-lined half-sheet pan used for toasting the nuts. Spread mixture into even layer. Bake until uniformly golden brown and dry to the touch, about 110 minutes, pausing every 25 minutes or so to remove mixture from oven to stir well with a pair of forks. Be sure to circulate granola from edges of the pan to center and vice versa, so that it bakes and dries evenly.
When oats are deep golden brown and dry to the touch, although perhaps a little soft, transfer them to the bowl of fruit and nuts. Toss with flexible spatula until well combined; return to baking sheet and spread in even layer to cool, about 45 minutes. As soon as granola has cooled, add freeze-dried bananas (if using) and transfer to airtight container. The granola will keep up to 6 weeks at cool room temperature.
Flexible spatula, Half-sheet pan
Small packages of dried fruit can be wildly expensive; look to stores that sell in bulk or else shop online. These are my favorite brands of dried mango slices, tart cherries, and blueberries. When making substitutions, think about the flavors, textures, and colors you're replacing, and choose fruit with a similar profile. For example, dried apricots and dried mango have a similar color, chewiness, and tart flavor.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The granola will keep up to 6 weeks at cool room temperature.