Homemade No-Bake Cherry and Pistachio Granola

 Sweet, crunchy, slightly salty, and a touch chewy - this granola is the perfect morning meal, snack, or evening treat. It combines all the best things - a touch of warm spice, crispy rice cereal, chewy oats, dried cherries, and crunchy pistachios. It's divine. 

Ever since I was a child, I have loved granola. I love all the kinds, flavors, and types. Granola can be a very expensive delicacy in cafes and grocery stores. However, it is SO easy to make. After making granola so easily at home, it's so hard for me to spend money on it at the store. I promise that it is easier and cheaper than you might think.

Growing up, my mom would make granola often. I would eat it almost every morning for breakfast, and it was incredible on yogurt. Although, my favorite way to eat it was in a bowl with some milk. 

My mom's granola is very traditional but so good. Sweet, crunchy, and delicious with slivered almonds and the right touch of salt. That makes me want to text her and ask her to make it soon. I just might do that.

However, her recipe requires a lot of involved time tending to it in the oven. It bakes low and slow, and needs to be stirred every 15-20 minutes. I certainly did not have time to do that while I was on Halloween Wars. I needed something quick, simple, effective, and delicious. This is it!

When I was trying to figure out new ways to incorporate texture into a cake, besides just using toasted nuts, pieces of chocolate, crunchy streusel, crushed cookies, and other common cake fillings, I wanted to give this granola a try. It is a perfect texture addition to a cake, cupcakes, or whatever else your heart desires. It adds chew and crunch, along with delicious flavor.


This delicious granola was sprinkled between the layers of the Sidecar Cocktail Inspired Cake that was featured on Food Network's Halloween Wars : Season 12 - Episode 6. 

The judges loved the texture that the granola added to the overall cake. It was a unique addition that I'm definitely proud of, and will continue to add into cakes in the future. It's fantastic on oatmeal, yogurt, or just in a bowl with milk.


Ingredients You'll Need:

- Oats: I use old fashioned rolled oats, and I make sure mine are certified gluten free. However, if you are not cooking for persons with gluten allergies, you can use regular old fashioned rolled oats.

- Crispy Rice Cereal: like Rice Krispies

- Butter, unsalted

- Honey

- Brown Sugar

- Cinnamon

- Salt

- Pistachios, roughly chopped

- Dried Cherries, roughly chopped


How to Make No-Bake Granola:

1. Toast the oats and rice cereal in the sauté pan for 3-4 minutes. This brings out even more flavor in the oats and cereal. It helps a ton.

2.Remove the oats and cereal and place in a separate bowl. Set aside.

3. In the same sauté pan, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. 

4. Add the pistachios and cherries to the butter/honey mixture, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes. This helps to toast pistachios, soften the cherries, and bring out the flavors in them. 

5. Finally, add the toasted oats and cereal that you set aside earlier. Stir to combine and coat all the cereal in the delicious honey syrup. It might take a minute or two to coat everything evenly. 

6. Cook for 2-3 minutes further, until the granola has toasted and started to get slightly crunchy. It will get crunchier as it cools.

7. Once the granola is finished, pour the granola out on parchment lined baking sheets and let cool. As it cools, break the granola into the desired sized pieces. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. It certainly doesn't last that long in my house. 


Other Cake Recipes from Food Network's Halloween Wars

Having fun with these cakes? Well, be sure to check out the other cakes I created especially for the show. I had a blast competing on Food Network's Halloween Wars Season 12 in Fall 2022. It was so fun & challenging. 

In addition to the Sidecar Cocktail cake, I was able to create so many amazing, unique, and delicious cakes to go along with each weeks' theme, and the celebrity judges loved them all. That was the best part. 

The Sidecar Cocktail themed cake that was featured in Episode 6 includes this very granola along with Orange Liqueur simple syrup, traditional lemon curd, and it's all wrapped up in a glorious Brandy Buttercream. HEAVENLY.

- An Almond Sourdough Cake that's so moist and tender, with a light touch of tang is paired with a creamy & luxurious Milk Chocolate French Buttercream and a tart raspberry jam. A bit of crunch comes from some toasted almonds in there, too. It's a beautiful combination. This one was featured on Episode 3, which was our debut episode.

- Lover of nostalgic treats? Well, this 4 Layer Cherry Limeade cake is one of my favorites from my time on Halloween Wars. It takes me back to my childhood summertimes, and all the refreshing glasses of cherry limeade. It’s fantastic & oh so good. It has alternating layers of cherry and lime cake that are flavorful, colorful, and super tender. It has homemade cherry jam, traditional lime curd, and a vanilla bean Italian buttercream. All the flavors blend together so well. It’s a huge hit.

- Churros are one of my very favorite desserts, so when I was able to create a cake based on this treat for Episode 5.. I about lost my mind. This Churro Cinnamon Spice cake filled with Churro Diplomat Cream, sweet and spicy Strawberry Chili Jam, a nutty and crunchy Almond Streusel, and a classic Vanilla Buttercream is to die for. I love and adore it. It's a bit of a labor of love, but it's so worth it.

- Finally, for Episode 7 - I was able to make a cake that featured seaweed... which is something I never thought I would do. However, *spoiler* according to the judges, even with it being gluten free, it was the BEST cake of the SEASON !! I was floating. It contains my famous gluten free chocolate cake, peanut butter Italian buttercream (YUM!), ginger sea salt caramel, crushed peanuts, and deep fried & chocolate coated dulse. Dulse is a red seaweed. Quite interesting, but it added such a nice texture, crunch, and saltiness. I've made this cake several times since. 



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