A happy mid-week to everyone!
I'm still playing the role of bad blogger this month. I decided to take yet another mini break, this time to the Oregon and Washington coast. Meaning, I've spent just about every weekend on the road these past two months and no where near a kitchen. I'll justify this behavior by pointing out the brief Pacific Northwest summer and that I really need the vitamin D.
So, I've been out and about hiking rather than baking but that's healthier, right? After all, testing and evaluating all these baked goods has the potential to be hard on the hips. Running around outside--and inside I suppose, after children--lends a healthy balance.
I also balance healthy with the not so healthy in my diet, so let's talk granola. I love the stuff. I eat oats in the form of oatmeal or granola almost every morning as part of my breakfast routine. I really like a little ordinary low fat granola sprinkled on my cup of non-fat yogurt. I like to pretend it is really good for me, even though I--like those of us who eye-ball nutrition lables--know better.
Granola is one of those foods that is generally perceived as being healthy, but in reality, kind of isn't.
Sorry to dash any illusions there, but just seeing granola on this blog should have been a sign.
Sure, granola packs many very healthy elements: whole grains, nuts and often fruits. We do tend to turn a blind eye towards the fats and sugars involved though. With this batch we're using some very good for you ingredients too, antioxidant rich dark chocolate, coarse oats, flaxseed meal, and sliced and ground almonds, but we're not going to pretend it is health food or diet food. Granola in almost any form packs a caloric punch and this happens to be no exception.
Everything in moderation, right? Granola is very yummy and this is very good dark chocolate granola (Just begging to be eaten by the handful. So much for moderation...) Of course, if you do want to trim calories and lighten things up, I'll provide a few tips in the recipe below.
Let's get started!
Ms. Humble's Dark Chocolate Granola
175g dark chocolate (in the 50-60% cacao range), chopped
30g coconut oil
100g golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
460g oats (thick and rough recommended, like Silver Palate Oats)
100g sliced almonds
40g flaxseed meal
50g almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
5 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa (Recommend extra dark)
57 g canola oil or unsweetened applesauce
Healthy tweaks: Reduce the amount of chocolate by half and if to your tastes, use a higher % cacao dark chocolate to further reduce the sugar. Reduce and/or substitute the brown sugar for another sweetener--minding that some sweeteners are sweeter than sugar and will require much less (maple syrup and brown rice syrup are good choices). Omit the canola oil or replace with the unsweetened apple sauce (helps bind up the flax and almond meal with the chocolate to make yummy bits). Granola recipes are forgiving, so feel free to toy around adding different nuts, coconut, and even dollops of peanut butter or Nutella (yum!). Just try to keep the wet and dry ingredients somewhat balanced, that way it bakes up and stores nicely.
Preheat your oven to 275°F. Position oven racks in the center and lower third of the oven.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave using 30 second bursts, stirring often and taking care that it doesn't get too hot. Stir in the sugar, vanilla and coconut oil.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds and meal, flaxseed, salt, instant espresso, and cocoa powder.
Add chocolate mixture to dry ingredients along with the oil (or applesauce) and stir until everything is evenly distributed and coated.
Bake the mixture for 35-45 minutes, until fragrant and no longer moist. Rotate the pans once during baking.
Remove from the oven and allow the mixture to cool completely. Stir and break up any chunks.
Once completely cool, store the granola in air tight jars for up to two weeks.
Eat it straight from the jar, with a splash of cold milk or on top of yogurt.