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Chocolate Granola That's Totally Breakfast Appropriate

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Granola gone chocolate! We partnered with Califia Farms to share Gena Hamshaw's new go-to when it comes to a not-too-sweet, not-too-savory breakfast.

For the most part, I’m a big fan of the idea of no-recipe recipes, those formulas so reliable that you can make them without consulting so much as a single written word. Nearly all of my kitchen basics, from hummus to marinara sauce to kale salad, fall into this category.

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It’s true of granola, too. At some point I started making a batch that was inspired by Nekisia Davis’ genius recipe, and over time I’ve adjusted it again and again to fit my tastes. The nice thing about this is that I have a recipe I love and can whip up from memory; the downside is that I sometimes forget how much fun it is to tweak a recipe, mix up its central ingredients, or even turn it on its head.

Photo by Julia Gartland

So, the other day, I got to thinking about chocolate granola. I was hoping for something that smelled and tasted undeniably like chocolate, but was totally breakfast-appropriate (in other words, not overly sweet or dessert-like). I think I struck gold with this batch, which is just sweet enough for me, but what I taste more than anything is cocoa and sea salt. I made it once with just cocoa, and was very happy: the next time I added a shot of slightly cooled espresso, which I’m calling optional, but it made me even happier.

I know some people love granola as a snack, but I like to give it full breakfast treatment, served up in a bowl with a spoon and some non-dairy milk. Creamy cold brew has been a morning ritual for me this summer, and since coffee and chocolate play so nicely together, I figured I’d cut out the multiple vessels and combine them in a bowl. (Note to self: Good move.) The end result is plenty of mocha flavor, along with a marriage of creamy, cool, and crunchy textures.

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If it’s true that granola lovers are divided into crumbly and cluster-loving tribes, then I’m definitely in the latter camp. To get plenty of clusters I tend to avoid stirring the granola while it bakes, which means that I also keep it at a low temperature (300°F) in order to avoid scorched edges. You can use maple syrup, date syrup, or brown rice syrup in the recipe, but I think brown rice syrup is the most cluster-friendly of the three.

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Cocoa Coffee Granola & Creamy Cold Brew Bowls

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Makes 5 to 6 cups granola and 6 bowls
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup large flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or a neutral oil, such as refined avocado or grapeseed)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups brown rice syrup or maple syrup (you can adjust this to fit your preference for sweetness)
  • 1 shot (1 1/2-2 ounces) espresso, cooled slightly (optional)
  • 4 cups Califia Farms XX Expresso Cold Brew, for serving
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We partnered with Califia Farms to share Gena Hamshaw's new favorite morning boost. Inspired by what plants can do, Califia Farms crafts flavorful plant milks from nature's bounty, like almonds, coconut, and more—see all their products here.

Tags: califia farms, almond milk, granola