Saturday, January 22, 2011

chocolate granola

For someone whose blog posts deal with food more than pretty much any other topic, it's perhaps a little surprising that I've never shared a recipe directly in this space. That, my friends, is about to change—at least for this edition.

I have a set of recipes written on old school lined paper in purple Pilot pen. I copied them down almost ten years ago, around the time that I spent the summer living with my sister Bethany in Princeton. By far, the most weathered of those pages is the one that has the recipes for granola, Ghirardelli oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and banana bread. While I've made the cookies several times, the granola was the most immediately useful during my college years.

My sophomore year, right after that summer, I started making granola in the tiny kitchen that was in the basement of my dorm. The beauty of the recipe was that it was so easy and required few tools. All I needed was a large bowl, a sheet pan, a large spoon, and some measuring cups. In terms of ingredients, I could get away with using just four: oats, wheat germ, honey, and vegetable oil. (It came out a lot like those Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey granola bars.) From there I could get creative with dried cranberries or dried apples and cinnamon. I'd sit on the little couch in my room and eat it by the handful out of a Ziploc bag while I studied.

Since college, I haven't made granola at all. I've been wooed by fancier goods like cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and breads—all those things I couldn't make easily in a tiny, borrowed kitchen. I had all but forgotten about that granola until I saw the chocolate granola recipe on La Tartine Gourmand last week.

I decided to make some the next day, but I wasn't sure whether to use Béa's recipe or my old one with chocolate added. Hers has rice puffs, millet puffs, pumpkin seeds, and almonds, among other things. I liked the idea of adding almonds, since they were optional in my recipe—I know I'm not allergic to them now—but I didn't particularly want to invest in packages of the other stuff. There's also a stovetop step to combine the wet ingredients, which is a more involved process than mine.

In the end, I took a chance and combined the two recipes, keeping most of the amounts the same. Both of them claim to make about 4 1/2 cups of granola, and it's not exactly rocket science. From Béa's recipe, I used the salt, vanilla, brown sugar, and dark chocolate. Otherwise, it's my recipe plus a little more than the 1/3 cup of optional sliced almonds and minus the 1/4 cup of wheat germ. I didn't miss it, and it's easier to eat this way.

Without (much) further ado, here is the recipe. I'm thinking about trying it with "crunch-dried" apples, peaches, and apricots next time, in place of the dark chocolate. Or I might make half each way, since I divide the granola into two containers for storage.

chocolate granola

Chocolate Granola
makes 4 1/2 cups

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 ounces chopped dark chocolate (70%)

Preheat oven to 300 F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper (or foil).

Combine the oats, almonds, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil and honey. Add the vanilla and brown sugar, and whisk until well incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir to coat.*

Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet, spread evenly, and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown, stirring and redistributing occasionally.

Cool completely before adding the chocolate. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
(If it lasts that long.)

*If the granola seems too dry, you can put a little more oil in the bottom of the 1/3 cup measure, add a little honey, mix it up, and pour it on. Then finish stirring, of course.

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