Today’s recipe has been in the works for over a year… It all started when my sister-in-law brought us a package of cocoa granola clusters. She thought they would be a great snack to have around the house when we were just adjusting to life with a newborn. She was right. We were hooked.
When I first tried the granola clusters, I immediately said, “I could make these.” But, the process of adjusting to having a baby to take care of didn’t leave me with a lot of time to work on developing a recipe. I was lucky to take a shower. I still am.
So, I’ve fiddled around with the recipe on and off for over a year. The first batch turned out to be more like a chewy granola bar with far too much liquid. There were some batches that didn’t clump up very well, some batches that clumped a bit too much and turned into granola rocks.
I am happy to announce, however, that I have finally achieved the granola clusters that I had been dreaming of for so long. The secrets? Instead of rolled oats, I use quick oats… They usually aren’t my favorite, but they seem to clump up a bit better. I also add an egg white to the liquids in the recipe to help to bind everything together. It seems so simple now, but it took me a while to get it right!
Now that I’ve got the recipe down, it’s become one of my favorite gifts for new moms. It’s especially good for moms who are breastfeeding because it’s packed with great nutrients including oats, almonds, ground flax, and coconut oil.
You don’t have to be a new mom (or dad!) to enjoy this one, though… I think just about anyone will enjoy snacking on these granola clusters. The addition of cocoa makes them taste like a special treat, but as far as chocolate goes, these are a relatively healthy choice. Plus, they are gluten-free (assuming you double check your ingredients to make sure they aren’t processed with any gluten), so they are a great alternatively to lots of gluten-filled snacks, if that’s a concern for you.
Cocoa Granola Clusters
Makes about 5 cups
- 3 1/2 cups quick oats (preferably organic and gluten-free), divided
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone liner and set aside.
Combine ½ cup of oats with the almonds in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until the almonds are well chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining oats, cocoa powder, flax, cinnamon, and sea salt. Stir to mix the dry ingredients well.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and egg white. Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients and use a spatula to stir until everything is evenly moistened.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Use a spatula to press down gently on the mixture to press it together and spread it evenly in the pan. Bake for about 55-60 minutes, turning the pan once or twice to make sure everything bakes evenly.
Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet. Then, break into clusters before snacking. The granola clusters will keep in an airtight container for a week or so, but they aren’t likely to last that long.