I’ve been making granola like crazy lately, as I finalize the recipes for that section of the cookbook. Just when I was sure I was done and could put the oats away, another recipe possibility started growing. You see, I’ve had Nutella on the brain in the last few days (I blame Lara’s Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies). And when you combine an obsessive devotion to granola with thoughts of Nutella, its an impossible task to try and avoid seeing what their love child would look like.
In my kitchen, the result of that unlikely union is a chocolate-kissed cereal that has a touch of sweetness and a crunch that is habit-forming. The jar of it is sitting next to me as I type these words and my writing progress is far slower than normal, because I can’t stop my hand from dipping into it every minute or so.
A word of warning. This is not the chocolate cereals of our collective youth. If you eat it with milk, you will not go into glucose shock from drinking the liquid that remains in the bowl. In fact, had someone presented to this to me as a child, I would have taken a bite and then been mightily disappointed by the subtly of the sweetening. However, as an adult, it’s that nuance that I find so appealing (along with the small hints of salt that come through thanks to the 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt).
All that said, if you did want to turn this concoction into something a bit more dessert-like, you could toss the partially cooled cereal with small shards of dark chocolate. That would be good. Oh, another thing. Hazelnuts are one of the more expensive nuts out there. If you can’t swing their price, you could substitute almonds. However, you only need about a 1/3 of a pound for this recipe, so if you have someplace that sells them in bulk, it’s worth spending $3-4 to buy just that amount. They are transcendentally good.
Cocoa Hazelnut Granola
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup neutral oil I like sunflower oil
- 1/2 cup cane syrup* like Lyle’s Golden Syrup or Steen’s
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the hazelnuts out onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10-12 minutes, until they are toasted and fragrant. While still hot, spill the nuts into a colander or mesh strainer and shake them around. This will loosen the skins. When they are cool enough to touch, use your fingertips to rub away a bit more of the skins. They don’t have to be perfectly skinned, just get rid of whatever is loose. I like to chop the hazelnuts into slightly smaller pieces, and I do this using a chopping bowl and a curved chopper. You could also pour them into a bag and give it a couple of whacks with a rolling pin. Or, you can just leave them whole. Up to you.
- Combine the hazelnuts, oats, cocoa powder and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss it all together with your fingers, just to help the cocoa powder coat everything else.
- Measure the oil out into a graduated 1-cup measure and swirl it around a little bit before pouring it into the mixing bowl. Then measure the cane syrup into the same, unwashed measuring cup. This will help you get a accurate measure while still getting the bulk of the sweetener into the granola.
- Toss everything together with a silicone spatula (it’s the best tool for this job but a wooden spoon also works) until the oil and syrup are evenly distributed.
- Pour the cereal out onto an ungreased baking sheet and spread it evenly using your spatula. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, to ensure even baking.
- When it well roasted, remove the baking sheet from the pan. Using a spatula, scoot the cereal together into the center of the baking sheet and press it down. Let it remain like this, undisturbed, until fully cool. This promotes crunchy clusters.
- When the granola is totally cool, use a sturdy metal spatula (something like this, with a flat, straight edge is ideal) to break up the granola and scrape it off the baking sheet.
- Store in an airtight jar or container, to protect the crunch.