Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mocha Granola

This may be my new favorite granola. I’d have to test it side by side with this peanut butter granola to be sure. I really like that peanut butter granola, but boy oh boy is this Mocha Granola good.

This recipe is really just a simple twist on this chocolate granola, but I think it turned out better in texture and flavor than the chocolate granola did. I know that good bakers often use coffee or espresso to enhance chocolate-y goodness in treats like brownies and cakes, so it may not be that much of a surprise if the espresso powder makes chocolate granola better. Of course, I didn’t just add a smidgeon of coffee flavor to boost the chocolate. I gave the chocolate enough of a wallop to change its name to mocha.

Mocha Granola is just as easy to make as any other granola, except you have to treat the chocolate a little more delicately.  I baked this granola (as well as the other chocolate granola I’ve made) at a lower temperature and for a shorter time to prevent the chocolate from burning. I also gave the whole pan of oats, nuts and coating a good stir earlier in the baking process than usual. The coating is thick and stiff when it first goes on the oats and nuts (I used almonds, but hazelnuts would be pretty nifty as well), so I just let it melt a little in the oven, then stirred things up to distribute the coating better.

There is definitely a real coffee presence in the flavor of this granola, making it perfect for breakfast as far as I’m concerned. You might even be able to get your morning cereal and coffee all in one bowl, if you’re so inclined. As much as I like this Mocha Granola, however, I don’t think you’ll see me taking any chances by skipping my cup of coffee.

Mocha Granola

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped almonds (or hazelnuts)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large bowl, combine the oats and almonds. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey and canola oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth.

3. Add the chocolate and stir until it has completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the espresso powder, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.

4. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir to coat the oats and almonds as well as possible. The mixture will be thick.

5. Spread the mixture out onto a baking pan lined with a silicone mat (or line the pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray). Bake at 300 F for about 5 minutes or until the chocolate mixture has melted. Stir to re-distribute the coating as well as possible.

6. Bake about 20 minutes more, stirring every 8 minutes or so. Be careful not to burn the coating mixture. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. (Remove earlier if the coating appears to be near burning.)

7. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or zip-top freezer bag for a few months.

Makes about 6 cups.

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