chocolate hazelnut granola + double almond granola

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Without a doubt, my gravest concern about living at college was the food. Staying in the dorms is mandatory for freshmen, so I knew I would have no choice about that. At first I held tightly to the faint hope that I would be able to cook sometimes at college. Alas, reality soon necessitated that I relinquish that fantasy.

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My dorm, which I chose and do love for its four-person style suites, recent construction, and cozy size of only 250 occupants, tragically lacks an adequate number of decent kitchens. Indeed, there is only one. This solitary tribute to the existence of home cooking is a rather grimy kitchenette on the third floor. On the rare occasion I enter this fated room, I notice that single panel light in the ceiling flickers almost imperceptibly as it blasts its sterile light onto the splattered and encrusted oven, microwave, and sink surrounded by the disturbingly speckled, formerly white-ish countertop. As I dutifully scan the faded brochure about fire safety hanging halfheartedly from the red bulletin board by a single pin, I wonder to myself what would happen if an epileptic decided to make a pot of pasta. I hope I never find out the answer to that question. In any case, the pseudo-kitchen is pathetic and worthy only of college-level cooking such as zuppe di ramen.

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Granted, before August I was unaware of the actual state of our dorm kitchen. Nevertheless, I presumed that I would be unable to do much cooking. Still hoping to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” I decided the best I could do was control exactly what I consumed for breakfast. Breakfast in the dining hall, after all, consists of various boxed cereals, waffles, pancakes, gravy, eggs, bacon, et cetera – half food I don’t like, and all food I don’t want to eat unless I make it myself. Naturally, I made granola.

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Now, you must understand that I have a long and complicated history with granola. I don’t recall being aware of its existence until sometime around age eight. That’s when we moved to Uganda for two years, during which time I consumed mass quantities of granola. Perhaps my juvenile memories of those years do not serve me well, but I remember eating granola nearly every day for breakfast. The same kind. The same recipe. With the same off-tasting milk. Or the same homemade plain yogurt. For two years. My taste buds were severely scarred from the granola marathon, and it wasn’t until two or three years ago that I could stomach the thought of munching on granola – still that fateful faithful recipe – again. However, I infrequently selected granola over boxed cereal options until I firmly established my eating and cooking philosophies within the past year. Then, I realized that I needed more exciting granola options if I was to breakfast upon it multiple times a week, between pancakes and toast and such. So, I always kept a batch of some interesting granola in the cupboard next to Mom’s usual type. Heading to college planning to eat granola for breakfast every single day of the semester, I was certain the undertaking would require more varieties of granola than ever in order to avoid a relapse into granolaphobia. I made five kinds. 22 cups. And that was just the first round.

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Inspired by nutella and all its divine scrumptiousness, but unwilling to mix it into my breakfast cereal, I made the next best thing: a dark chocolate granola with hazelnut chunks. As beautifully deep and chocolatey as it appears, the chocolate flavor itself is not at all overpowering but just strong enough to compliment the hazelnuts without masking their marvelous flavor.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hazel nuts
  • 4 cups oats
  • 5 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s specialty dark)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins are cracked and flaking. Remove husks by rubbing the hazelnuts between towels. Pick off any remaining skins. Roughly chop the hazelnuts.

In a large bowl combine the hazelnuts with the other dry ingredients. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, and then fold the mixture into the dry ingredients until well combined.

Spread the granola on a baking sheet or two. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes to prevent burning.

Similarly, while the double almond granola does not scream almonds – only almond extract would have accomplished that, I think – it does have a rich taste. With both the crunch of the whole almonds and the deep flavor of the almond butter, I think it’s just right, especially for eating with berries.

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Double Almond Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Combine the almonds, salt, and oats in a large bowl.

In another bowl whisk together the applesauce, almond butter, vanilla, and honey until well combined. Stir this mixture into the oats until evenly distributed throughout.

Spread the granola on a baking sheet or two. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the oats are no longer moist and have browned lightly. Stir every 10 minutes to prevent burning. Enjoy! Add some berries; I think it’d be excellent.

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9 comments

  1. LOVE the recipe for chocolate granola with hazelnuts – no oil! Thank you so much for sharing it… and as always your pictures are really fine.

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