Well, I said I was going to do savory recipes for the rest of January, but I just can’t help myself.
After weeks of eating pastry for breakfast (kolaches, y’all), I practically leapt at getting back to my usual yogurt and granola last week. It might sound a tad boring, but I adore granola. Well, I adore homemade granola. The prepared stuff tends to be overly sweet and full of ingredients I can’t pronounce and, with little exception, all tastes the same to me. Homemade granola though? It’s just sweet enough, I know exactly what’s in it, and I can make any flavor I want: see exhibits A, B, and C.
Returning home from three weeks away, I didn’t have any idea what kind of mix-ins I’d find in my cabinets. The holiday season was a blur for this baker–I went through so many chocolate chips and pecans and pounds of sugar that I honestly wasn’t sure what I had left. When I went into my kitchen to investigate, I found a 1/2 jar of almond butter leftover from a cookie order, 1/4 of a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus dark chocolate bar, about 10 half-bags of nuts, and 24 ounces (!) of unsweetened coconut. Seeing all those ingredients piled on the counter, I knew exactly what kind of granola I’d be having: Almond Joy, y’all!
While it’s certainly not like eating a candy bar for breakfast, this Almond Joy Granola is decadent and delicious–there’s chocolate in there after all. It’s full of toasted almond flavor, scented with coconut, and littered with chunks of dark chocolate. Stirred into some plain yogurt or milk, it’s a delightful way to start the day. And did I mention that it’s good for you? While granola is generally pretty calorie dense, it packs a nutritional punch. The protein and good fats in the oats, almonds, and almond butter, the all-around goodness of coconut oil, and the antioxidants in dark chocolate are an excellent combination. Well, I may be exaggerating about the chocolate, but who cares–I just gave you an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.
Almond Joy Granola
makes about 2 quarts
1/4 cup creamy almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup roughly-chopped raw almonds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together almond butter, maple syrup, olive oil, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold the oats, coconut, and chopped almonds into the mixture.
Spread mixture in an even layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes. Cool granola in the pan on a rack. Scatter chopped chocolate over the cooled granola and stir together with a spatula.
Transfer granola to an airtight container. It will keep well at room temperature for up to three weeks.