What are you up to on Valentine’s Day, dear readers? Do you make a big deal out of the day and get together with your loved ones? Or do you hide under a blanket with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s?
Valentine’s Day and I have a love/hate relationship. There are years when it goes unexpectedly well and I concede that maybe it’s not so bad.
And there are others where it seems everyone is making plans to outdo everyone else and I’d rather just put my pajamas on and call it a night.
So far, this is shaping up to be one of the better years.
And for another, there are lots of little ways this particular day will be special. Starting with breakfast.
Annie posted a recipe for Cherry Chocolate Coconut Granola on her site earlier this year, and I was drawn to it right away. It was almost identical to a granola I built for myself one morning at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. The only major difference I spotted was that Annie’s had chocolate (the minor was that I used cranberries instead of cherries). So basically, she made things ten times better. And a million times better than the bowl of Cheerios we were planning to eat. Even if they were honey nut.
I inhaled a big bowl of this for breakfast this morning, and it was like eating a chocolate chip cookie. A chocolate chip cookie that tastes like a chocolate chip cookie, but doesn’t have butter, eggs, or added sugar. And how better to start a day that’s practically dedicated to chocolate, than with a couple of morsels tucked into your first bites?
The best part of this whole granola-making endeavor is that one crunch into my cereal and I realized I never need to purchase the overpriced granola from Whole Foods that I love so much ever again. The homemade stuff is ten times better, and cheaper, when it comes from your own oven. Throw on your Birkenstocks and embrace it. You know you love granola, too.
- 1 C shredded coconut (sweetened, or not)
- 1/3 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 C almonds, coarsely chopped
- 3 C old fashioned oats
- 3 T canola oil
- 1/2 C honey
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 C dried cranberries
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I had mini chunks so I used those)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a skillet, toast coconut over medium heat, stirring often, until light brown. Transfer to small bowl, and set aside. Wipe out skillet and add nuts, toasting 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add oats and oil and toast, stirring until oats are toasted, about another 3 minutes.
Pour oat mixture into large bowl and toss with cinnamon, salt, and honey, till combined. Pour mixture onto baking sheet, pressing till you have an even layer. Bake, stirring every few minutes (I forgot this part!), for 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet, toss in coconut and cranberries, stir and move granola to one side of baking sheet. Using spatula, press granola into flat slab. Let cool to room temperature.
When cool, break granola into pieces. Add chocolate bits and serve or store.