I've been experimenting with granola lately. I wanted "chunky" granola. My previous batches didn't have those big crunchy clusters that we all LOVE in a cereal.
I read several recipes and noticed that the trick is in a looooong slow baking time. Duh! Of course! This way, the ingredients have time to "meld" together, and rather than "cooking" the granola, you're really just drying it out. Get some honey and butter in there and magically you've got clusters!
And who doesn't love chocolate? I have a strong fondness for chocolate. And not just because it tastes amazing, but because it is a very healthy food! Obviously, dark chocolate or raw cacao is healthier than regular old milk chocolate because it doesn't have all the added fats and sugar. Dark chocolate will have a little bit of fat solids and sugar, but not much at all. Raw cacao has not been roasted or processed so it's rich nutritional properties are preserved.
Raw cacao is full of antioxidants. Those are the things we need in our bodies to keep toxins out and boost our immune system. And cacao is an excellent source of magnesium, which helps to build strong bones and improve muscle function. Natural cacao also has just a touch of natural caffeine in it, so if you aren't a coffee drinker you can get a little "boost" in the morning by adding some cacao to your breakfast.
You'll notice that there is one cup of unspecified nuts in this recipe. If you don't keep a variety of nuts around your house, I recommend using walnuts as the third nut in this recipe. The more important part of this recipe is the almonds and macadamia nuts.
Small seeds (of any kind) can be added to your nut mixture before or after you process it in the food processor. If you want the whole seeds in your granola (for texture and crunch), then put them in the nut mixture after it's been processed. Ground up flax or chia seeds would also contribute to the "chunkiness" of the granola by helping the larger ingredients to stick together. Also, your body will absorb the nutrients in ground up seeds as opposed to whole seeds. Whole seeds don't get chewed up; they pass right through your body whole.
Your house will smell amazing while the granola is in the oven. You'll know when it's done because the chocolate will transition to a deeper, darker, more intense smell. There's no need to toss the granola during the baking process unless your oven doesn't bake evenly. It should bake evenly at low heat. But check it periodically, just to make sure. It can a be a little difficult to determine done-ness because the chocolate color masks any color that might develop on the nuts. The moment that the granola transitions from "perfect" to "burnt" is quick so keep your eyes (and nose) on it.
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts
1 cup assorted raw nuts and seeds of your choice (I used pecans, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
3 heaping tablespoons of organic raw cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a sheet of parchment paper over each of two large sheet pans.
Put all the nuts and seeds in your food processor and pulse until nuts resemble the size of oats. It's okay if your food processor doesn't process evenly. Mine didn't. Everything will come together really well in the end anyway.
Dump the nuts and seeds in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan on medium low heat, add the butter, honey, cacao powder, salt and vanilla. Whisk until the butter has melted and the chocolate mixture is silky smooth.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the nuts. Use a big wooden spoon to stir and make sure all the nuts are coated with the chocolate mixture. Add the coconut and toss to coat.
Split the granola evenly over the two prepare sheet pans. Spread evenly over the parchment paper.
Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes.
When done baking, allow to cool almost completely, but not totally. While still slightly warm, sprinkle the dark chocolate chunks evenly over the granola. Then allow to cool completely on the sheet pans, without tossing. This will help meld the granola together so you get chunky granola.
When the granola is cooled, it should be pretty chunky. Break apart the really big pieces and pour all the granola in a big jar. I keep mine in the refrigerator.
This is great by itself as a snack. But the ultimate way to serve this is sprinkled over coconut milk yogurt with fresh raspberries. OH yeah.