Monday, October 28, 2013

Chocolate granola with hazelnut and puffed cereal -- a.k.a. the best chocolate granola

Sadly, most people do not know the secret of granola-making. It is so easy that I am shocked that my peers would rather shell out the hefty sum that granola tends to cost in the supermarket than spend a half-hour whipping up something splendidly custom-tailored to their tastes. So allow me to inform you how to turn a couple dollars of ingredients into a huge, tasty batch of granola.

The basic components to granola making are oatmeal, nuts and/or dried fruit, and that special sauce that may be more properly termed as the glaze. The glaze is made up of two main components -- fat and sugar, in whatever form your heart desires, and, if you like, a bit of flavoring like spices, jams, or if you're feeling dangerous like I was today, chocolate. The possibilities are basically endless here.

Today, I was tempted by the chocolate chips in my pantry as well as some delicious hazelnuts I recently found for very cheap calling to me. I have made granola for years now, and letting my creative juices flow has ended in some pretty odd granola flavors (maple blueberry, anyone?). I have also not been shy in using unconventional ingredients, like dehydrated sprouted buckwheat or quinoa, or pumpkin purée. And now I think I have bested myself, in an ultimate apex of tastiness and creativity. I give you: chocolate hazelnut multigrain granola.

This idea of chocolate granola got stuck in my head from a muesli cereal I used to buy from Leader Price (pronounced leedare puhriiice) when I lived in Guadeloupe. I had to stop myself from buying it at the store because once it got home, the entire bag would be consumed immediately. This recipe might be even better than that cereal, so beware!

My recipe includes puffed whole grain cereal; and if you've never tried puffed grains before, you're really missing out. Think rice krispies, but made of all kinds of lovely grains like rye, barley, triticale, and buckwheat. It really adds that extra crunch that regular granola is missing, so I highly recommend tracking some puffed grains down for use in your future granola endeavors. And give oat bran a try, too; it really helps form those clumps that everyone looks for in the perfect granola, all the while adding some extra fiber. But feel free to add or omit anything to your taste! Granola-making allows for near-complete customization with no hiccups whatsoever, as long as you stick including the basic components.

Chocolate granola with hazelnut and puffed cereal

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup puffed whole grains (I used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal)
.5 cup oat bran
1 cup chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds
1 handful dried black currant or chopped dried apricot

1/2 cup turbinado sugar simple syrup (1:1 sugar/water boiled down)
1 handful of chocolate chips
1 T cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter
2 T olive oil

Combine dry ingredients in bowl and toss thoroughly. Combine glaze ingredients in small pot and allow to melt together very slowly on low heat, being extremely careful not to overcook or boil, while stirring constantly. Prepare glaze to taste. Pour glaze in stages over dry mixture until thoroughly moist but not wet (be careful to not overdress -- you may have some leftover, depending). Arrange mixture flat onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 300 degrees. Allow to cool and store in a ziplock bag, large jar, or other receptacle of your choice. Makes many, many servings.

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