I'm not a huge cereal fan, but I make an exception for granola. Whether I'm having it in milk, on yogurt or popping clusters by the handful, I could go through a bag of the stuff in a day or two. Unfortunately most packaged granolas are loaded with fat and sugar and aren't exactly cheap.
Thankfully granola is one of those foods that's ridiculously cheap and simple to make at home. I usually make a different batch every week, and I've posted some of my creations such as peach passion granola and cherry vanilla granola in the past. One of my recent favorites has been chocolate granola!
While it doesn't exactly qualify as healthy, it's better for you than it sounds, and it's certainly better for you than a bowl of coco pebbles. That's because this doesn't use any chocolate. It gets its rich brown hue and chocolaty flavor from unsweetened coco powder and roasted cacao nibs. The sweetness comes from honey and dried fruit, and the creaminess from whatever kind of milk you decide to add to the granola when serving it.
Baking this chocolate granola will fill your house with a mouthwatering aroma, and if you hadn't just stuck a tray of oats and nuts into the oven, you'd swear you had a fudgey batch of brownies in there instead. You can adjust the sweetness of this granola by adding more or less honey, and if you want to make this vegan, just swap out the butter for vegetable oil.
I used Marcona almonds in this recipe because I love their texture, which is somewhere between an almond and a macadamia nut. They're usually sold in tubs in the cheese section of upscale grocery stores, but if you can find them, regular almonds will do. The granola will keep better if you bake the cherries with the granola, but I find this makes them tough and chewy, so I like adding them in after the granola has cooled. I also love adding freeze-dried strawberries or bananas to the mix.
- Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 300 degrees F (150 C).
- Mix all the ingredients (except the cherries) together in a bowl until the mixture is well combined and sticky.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spread the granola out in a thin even layer.
- Bake the granola for 30-40 minutes until the granola is very fragrant. Be careful not to burn the granola as the coco powder makes it tough to tell how brown it is. If in doubt, pull the granola out early and let it cool. If it's not crisp after cooling, put it back in the oven for a little longer.
- Once the granola has fully cooled, add the dried cherries.