Don’t you just love it when you come across something that does double, or even triple, duty? I’m not talking about moisturiser, or Swiss army knives (which if the latter is really swish will do about a 36 jobs, including scale fish and remove the hook – cool Crimbo pressie?). As always, I am talking food. This food specifically, cocoa granola.
I have waxed (un)lyrically about the perils of shop bought granola previously, and provided a suitable home-baked substitute for these desserts masquerading as healthy cereals. My Good-For-You Granola with its 4 grains and various nuts, seeds and fruit is my mainstay granola, and quite a number of my friends say they make it, with their own tweaks of course. It rocks, basically. If I dare let it run out I soon hear about it. And have chivvying notes left about it from super-fan Miss R To wit: ‘Make more granola today. Please.’
But I wanted to simplify and de-fat my approach, and still give a great taste that keeps everyone happy – dieters, growing children, fusspots, ‘normal’ people. I think this is it. If you loved (still love?) Cocoa Puffs and the like as a child, you’ll love this. Pinky swear.
I wasn’t initially going to ditch the oil, after all it is in most granola recipes, in varying amounts. But I realised when playing around with the base syrup that I didn’t need added fat to give a good result, I just needed it to be an adhering liquid. And the water-sugar alchemy does that job just fine. I found that with slow even baking, the natural fats in the grains are released, and offers the rich, rounded taste that fat imparts. The malt syrup helps too, but is completely fabby without. The only thing that may set it apart from the rest of the cereal pack is the lack of shine. But that’s a trifle in my book. Shine is great for hair, but not necessary for breakfast foods. But, if you want the lacquered look, and a few more calories, go ahead and add 2-3 tablespoons of neutral olive oil or rapeseed/canola oil to the syrup-making step. It will still be a heck of lot lower fat, not to mention fresher, than shop bought. Cheaper too.
As to its versatility, I don’t need to tell you that aside from breakfast, this cocoa-luscious and fibre-filled cereal makes a super and super-healthy snack (about a heaped quarter cup with some fruit added) and crunchy topper for all manner of desserts: crumbles, cobblers, crisps; in a sweet yeasted bread; with plain creamy desserts; layered with a berry compote and yogurt. I have also had it mixed into porridge, which may seem redundant, but gives a subtle taste and crunch to this most comforting of breakfasts. You can even sprinkle in some mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs for yet more luxury.
So, not quite as versatile as Swiss army knife, but a pretty darn tasty and healthy way to start – or end – the day.