Saturday, October 15, 2011

Can't put my finger on it... Chocolate Granola

Sometimes I get a craving for something out of my normal realm of foods- something specific- and I drive  myself crazy trying to figure out what inspired  my momentary obsession. And I usually can't stop thinking about it until I've consumed it...and then I'm over it. (Does that sound like a problem?) Such was the case recently with chocolate granola. First, I rarely eat granola; and although I love chocolate I never desire it at breakfast time. So this one threw me for a loop trying to recall where I might have read or heard about, or saw chocolate granola. Then a few days later I was wandering through our grocery store and I saw chocolate cocoa puffs and I remembered!

When we were in France-all of 2 weeks ago- our hotel had breakfast in the mornings. They had 2 options of cereal: corn flakes or chocolate (corn?) flakes. I was a little skeptical because again, perhaps the only time of I don't want chocolate is at breakfast. So the first day I had corn flakes with a "splash" of chocolate flakes. It was pretty good so the next day I had a little more. By the third day I was going for half-corn, half-chocolate, and by out last day I was eating straight up chocolate flakes. So, I imagine I was going through some kind of withdrawl when I got home.

Needless to say the hunt for chocolate granola recipes began. I was surprised at how few I found. My preference was quite particular for cocoa-coated granola and not granola with chocolate chips. I found a blog with a recipe that sounded right up my alley, and which was inspired by a food network recipe. I  often will compare recipes to other recipe-sites that I trust (like food network) to get an idea of proportions, temperatures and cooking times to see how I can alter if needed.

Here's what I did: 
2 Tbs cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 1/4 c rolled oats
1/2 c shredded coconut
1/2 c sliced almonds almonds
1/2 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg (I'll omit this next time..)
1/2 c dried cranberries or cherries (cherries would be better- we didn't have any available here!)
6 Tbs brown sugar
1/3 c honey (see recommended changes below)
1/4 c + 2 Tbs applesauce (6 Tbs)
1 T canola oil
hot water

coffee in the picture not part of the recipe :)

1. Preheat oven to 250-300 degrees. (I recommend lower range if using a lot of honey)
2. Pour hot water over dried cherries and allow to sit for 15 mins.
3. Mix dry ingredients (cocoa powder-nutmeg). *Consider adding coconut half-way through baking. I plan to do this next time.
4. In a small saucepan, heat brown sugar, liquid sweeteners, applesauce and oil until blended and runny.
5. Add liquid to dry ingredients, along with dried cherries (drained) and toss well to coat.
6. Pour into glass baking dish or walled cookie sheet and bake 45 mins to 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes or so.
7. Allow to cool completely. (*I made the mistake of thinking it would dry out completely in oven, but part of that happens in the cooling process. I think this is why mine turned out a little too crispy.) 

I cut the amounts in half of original recipe since I knew I didn't need 10 cups of chocolate granola laying around. All in all, it was pretty good. I used more honey than necessary since I didn't have agave and I think it made it a little too crispy for my taste (honey gets so hard!). Next time, I'll use maple syrup/honey combo and perhaps cook at a lower temp for longer time.

*I liked that this receipe used applesauce. I've never seen that before but it really cut down on the amount of oil needed (and therefore less fat) and had no hint of apple taste. I wonder if I can do this with pumkin puree instead of applesauce too?? But not with the chocolate..

**I will probably add the shredded coconut later next time because it dried up and was tasteless after an hour of baking.

Advice and suggestions welcome! How do you make granola??

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