Granola is more often eaten as snack food than breakfast cereal around here. Because the kids think nothing of grabbing a handful and depositing it into their mouth when they walk by the former pretzel barrel that currently serves as our high-tech, custom granola storage device, I try to pack as much nutrition into the stuff as I can without compromising the tremendously tempting snackability of it. Enter Double Chocolate Granola. Truth? I got into a very expensive habit this summer of buying pricey bags of commercial chocolate granola to sprinkle over my yogurt while I sat and waited for my youngest to finish his day at ballet. I had to squirrel it away from the kids to keep them from finding my stash and forcing me to share with them out of a deep sense of maternal guilt. I was obliged to figure out how to make the stuff, you could say.
Is it the most nutritionally dense granola I’ve ever made? Not by a long shot, but man is it good. And as far as snacks go, it’s still pretty not horrible for you; old-fashioned rolled oats, coconut oil, dark maple syrup, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and a whole apple (more on that in a few words…) Oh, fine. Yes, I also stir in a cup and a half of dark chocolate chunks that melt around the toasted granola and form crunchy, rich, chocolatey clumps. I would argue that dark chocolate is a (mental) health food. The end result is rich, crunchy chocolate granola with clumps enrobed in melted dark chocolate.
- Will quick oats work? Possibly, but I haven’t tested it that way because I prefer the chewy fabulousness of old-fashioned rolled oats. If you’d like to give it a go, please let me know how it works out for you.
- I have made this granola with both crisped rice (Rice Krispies) and more health-foody puffed rice. Either works equally well, so use whatever you like best and can find most easily. Just please do make sure they’re not sweetened.
- Do yourself a favour and don’t buy itty bitty little jars of sesame seeds in the spice aisle to make this granola or you’ll end up with a $30 batch of granola. That’s fine and dandy if you’re putting little gold nuggets in your granola, but this isn’t gold nugget granola: it’s Double Chocolate Granola. The sesame seeds provide a little extra crunch and nutrition to the party, but there is a far more economical way to get them. Try the bulk section of your grocery or health food store, a local Asian market, or online via Amazon.
- To get the most chocolatey oomph in your granola, please use Dutch process cocoa powder. This is an unsweetened, deep powdered chocolate that imparts a rich chocolate taste to your granola. It’s not hard to find usually, but if you’re having trouble, Amazon once again comes to the rescue.
- As usual, I recommend using dark, Grade B maple syrup instead of the light Grade A. You get a deeper, more caramel flavour from it and it’s just plain better and better for you, ounce for ounce. It’s more robust flavour-wise, obviously, but it also contains more minerals so we can feel a little better about using the full cup of it here.
- You can most definitely divide your granola between multiple smaller, low-rimmed baking pans, but for heaven’s sake, do yourself a favour and buy (or put on your Christmas wish list) 2 half sheet pans. These things are easily the most used pans in my vast collection. Here’s a link. You won’t regret it.
- For sheer versatility in stirring and mixing, there’s no spatula to compare with my beloved GIR spatula. For flipping granola (and many other tasty bits and baubles in the kitchen), my best loved fish turner has no equal. If you can get both, do. If you can’t, go for the GIR spatula since it’s heat resistant and more versatile.
- Now, that apple. I have a Blendtec blender which can pulverize an apple in seconds flat. If you have a less robust blender, you may want to chop the apple up a little finer before adding it into the mix. If your blender can’t hack it, try transferring to a food processor fitted with a metal blade to pulverize it into submission. The idea is that you’ll have a liquified apple in the mixture. This helps bind the granola so you have some lovely clumps as well as adding a little more sweetness to the party.
Double Chocolate Granola
- non-stick cooking spray
- 8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 cups non-sweetened crisped rice or puffed rice
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1 cup dark maple syrup Grade B
- 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 fresh apple or roughly chopped if you have a less burly blender, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
To Add After Baking:
- 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly spray two half sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- Toss together the old fashioned rolled oats, crisped or puffed rice, and sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl. Add the maple syrup, coconut oil, dutch processed cocoa powder, chopped apple, and vanilla extract to the work jar of a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the apple is completely liquified and the mixture is a homogeneous dark brown. Pour over the dry ingredients and toss gently with a silicone spatula until everything is evenly combined.
- Divide between the two half sheet pans and spread evenly.
- Bake for an hour, removing the pans every 15 minutes, and gently inserting a spatula under the granola mixture and carefully flipping it over in sections to keep some clumps in the mixture. Be sure to turn the center part over as well. Every other time, be sure to put the granola from the edges into the center and move the center toward the edges to evenly toast the mixture. After an hour, if there is still steam rising from the mixture when you stir it, you should lower the oven heat to 300°F and continue toasting it (still stirring every 15 minutes) until it feels dry to the touch or a piece left on the counter to cool is crisp when bitten into.
- Sprinkle the dark chocolate chunks over the hot granola and let stand 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to soften and melt. After 5 minutes, gently stir the granola and chocolate together to allow the melted chocolate to coat the granola. It does not have to be even. Let cool completely at room temperature. The chocolate will firm back up as it cools. When the chocolate is solid again, transfer the Double Chocolate Granola to an airtight jar or container and store at room temperature for up to two weeks.