Baked Sunday Mornings: Vanilla Cranberry Coconut Granola with Blonde Chocolate

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I was totally not going to make this recipe. I’m generally not ready to accept that the holiday sugar madness is over until around mid-January each year, and making granola right before New Year’s Eve seemed downright sacrilegious– I am still overloading on sugar cookies, eggnog, and fudge over here! The idea of raisins, cherries, and nuts just sounded like a big snoozer– Was there gold-leaf on it? Sparkling sugar? Royal icing? No, no, and let me check… BIG FAT NO. But since I try to stay on schedule with Baked Sunday Mornings as much as I can, I didn’t want to skip another recipe, as I’ve been inconsistent lately due to moving back to the States this month from Israel. This didn’t have to be all or nothing; I realized that I could customize it any way I wanted, which got the gears in my sugar-high brain turning. I decided to chuck out the cinnamon, raisins, cherries, and hazelnuts altogether and add in dried cranberries, coconut, and extra vanilla… but it still needed something else– you know, for holiday cheer. 😉 What goes well with cranberries? That’s right, white chocolate. But what is 100% better than white chocolate? If you said blonde chocolate, we should definitely hang out. And blonde chocolate just happens to go with coconut amazingly well, so all of a sudden “Easy Homemade Granola” from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking became Vanilla Cranberry Coconut Granola with Blonde Chocolate. Because I’m not done with the holidays yet, are you?

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There’s not much to this recipe, which I confess is a nice thing among fussier holiday recipes like Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, Chocolate Pistachio Nutella Rugelach, and Wintermint Cake. You can basically adapt it with any mix-ins that you want, from other nuts and fruits to cocoa nibs, seeds, etc. The granola base is made by combining rolled oats, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, then whisking together vegetable oil, honey, light brown sugar, and vanilla, and tossing the wet mixture with the oats until all the ingredients are blended evenly. You’ll want a mixture of small clusters and loose oats for textural variety. Bake this for 10 minutes before adding the almonds, then another short bake before adding the hazelnuts, and then the raisins and dried cherries get added once the granola has been baked and cooled.

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As I mentioned above, in my version I omitted the cinnamon, hazelnuts, cherries, and raisins. Instead, I made the following changes:

  • Doubled the vanilla– I used vanilla bean paste
  • Doubled the almonds– I chopped half the nuts because so many whole almonds seemed clunky (I would chop all of them next time)
  • Added about ½ cup (30 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Added about ⅔ cup dried cranberries (95 grams)
  • Added about ½ cup (85 grams) of chopped Valrhona Dulcey, aka blonde chocolate bliss

I added the chopped almonds about 5 minutes after the whole ones, then the coconut flakes 5 minutes after that, such that they baked only for about 5-7 minutes at the end and got lightly golden. My oats turned a deep golden brown, which wasn’t necessarily intentional, but I quite liked my granola that way. I added the cranberries and Dulcey when the granola was just the slightest bit warm, so that the chocolate would melt into the granola just a smidge. (Whoa. Guys, did I just invent blonde chocolate granola??)

I liked this granola riff so much that I decided to put some into my holiday cookie boxes and gift it in jars. It is also excellent in a yogurt parfait with berries and Greek yogurt– this might even have to be a regular breakfast choice from now on! If you’d like to join me in snacking on this not-quite-healthy Vanilla Cranberry Coconut Granola with Blonde Chocolate, hop over to Baked Sunday Mornings for the recipe for Easy Homemade Granola, then follow the modifications above (or any others that you’d prefer to make). Check out the other bakers’ granola offerings, and enjoy the last days of 2018! 🙂

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.

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