I have a love-hate thing with granola. I love the crunch, but don't want to crack my teeth; I love a little sweetness, but don't want it to essentially be a sugar-laden dessert parading as breakfast; I like a variety of textures and flavors in one cluster, but can appreciate the hassle that a laundry list of ingredients can be. In searching for some way to appease these ridiculous demands, I've devised this crunchy, healthy-ish version of a granola perfect for fall (or anytime, really) that complements both breakfast -and- dessert, and will keep you out of the dentist's office.
**Feel free to substitute egg whites, water, or a warmly-spiced tea. This helps the granola hold its shape and come together before baking, but also lends a subtle richness to the taste overall. —Jr0717
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the walnuts, sunflower seeds, and steel cut oats in the bottom of a medium bowl.
Add the coffee, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla extract and fold together with a spatula until the dry ingredients are well-coated.
Spread the granola mixture onto the parchment paper and pack together with the spatula, making it one solid piece.
Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, checking occasionally until golden and dry on top. DO NOT STIR!
Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the pan – this helps keep it together! When cool, break carefully into shards, and enjoy with no fears of dental hazards or blood sugar spikes.