I've always been a huge sucker for good granola. I mean, crunchy, delicious, healthy, (mostly chocolatey) and yummy, what's there to not like? Doused in sweet cold milk, it makes for the best breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.
You don't have to make your own granolas of course. There are many brands of granolas sold out there, some of them very delicious. Several local brands like Eastern Granola as well as The Edible Comapny carry interestingly flavoured granolas too. While these are oh-so-convenient and yummy, my only gripe is the ingredients used are not always the best or the healthiest.
Fortunately for me and all other granola lovers out there, granola's deceivingly simple to make and can be very healthy. It's also very versatile, and easily adaptable to a variety of flavour combinations. Once you've found your favourite base recipe, flavours and toppings can be changed accordingly to create something entirely different.
I like mine with a lot of chocolate, in huge chunks, and just really crunchy. It feels like I'm eating really healthy, really guilt-free cookies dunked in milk. Most granolas come with very few mini clusters, with majority of the oats broken apart into individual slivers. Yet another plus point for making your own food: you can control how it turns out! The trick here is to wait for the granola to cool down before breaking them apart, unlike most recipes that call for stirring in between baking times.
Those 2 hours of waiting for it to cool down was unbearable. Everyone wanted to just break it apart and taste it. Thing about baking when family's home is everyone keeps picking at it before it's fully done. So when it was finally ready to be broken apart, there were chunks missing throughout the pan.
And rightfully so. This is by far, the best granola I've made. Chocolatey, crunchy goodness, with an extra chocolate chip in every bite. Absolutely heavenly. Cranberries would be awesome in place of the golden raisins, but I haven't found any sugar-free dried cranberries so raisins would have to do. Leftovers can be stored for a week or so in an airtight container; but with this, that shouldn't happen.
Chocolate Cluster Granola (serves 4-6)
Recipe adapted from Manali's Big Cluster Chocolate Granola
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I use a GF blend)
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon powder
⅔ cup pecans
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
⅓ cup creamy natural peanut butter (I use Paul's)
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup golden raisins
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used sugar-free chocolate)
1. Preheat oven to 165C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.
2. In a bowl mix together oats, cocoa powder, salt , cinnamon powder and pecans. Set aside.
3. In a pan of medium heat, whisk together coconut oil, peanut butter and maple syrup till smooth and well combined.
4. Pour the wet mixture over the oats mixture, and stir to combine till the oats mixture is completely moistened.
6. Transfer the oats to the baking tray in a single layer.
7. Bake for 30 minutes without stirring, rotating the tray once after 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let the granola cool for 1-2 hours without stirring.
8. Once cooled, break into pieces of desirable size and mix in the dried cranberries and chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container.