I guess it’s a little unfair to call this granola “French,” since you can buy something similar in Belgium too - and probably, for that matter, pretty much anywhere. Besides, the concept of granola seems pretty all-American, no matter how you tweak it. But because I first had chocolate granola in France, French it’ll be. So there.
This granola is essentially a very good basic recipe - inspired by the Honey Crunch Granola in David Lebovitz’s ice cream book - that’s been tweaked to boost the sweetness ever so slightly, and to include chocolate. It’s quite different from the commercial granola we ate in Paris - much less sugary, for one, and without any ingredients with scary names - but its flavor pushes all the right buttons. It’s toasty, a little sophisticated, and way better, if I may say so, than the specimen that inspired it. We can’t keep our hands out of the jar.
For the chocolate, you’ll want something that’s bittersweet, but not too bittersweet. I think Trader Joe’s bittersweet Pound Plus bar - the big one with the brown wrapper - has the perfect flavor for this recipe: dark, yet still slightly sweet. (The back of the package says that it has a minimum of 54% cocoa solids.) Whatever you use, feel free to chop it to your desired size. I like mine finely chopped, as indicated below, in bits roughly the size of a pencil eraser. But you could go larger or smaller, if you like.
Oh, and consider doubling this recipe. Really. We’re plowing through it over here.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sugar, and salt. Stir well to blend.
In a small saucepan, warm the honey and oil over low heat, whisking occasionally – watch out! the oil will want to splash - until the honey is loose. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well.
Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Set a timer to go off halfway through the baking time, so that you can give the granola a good stir; this helps it to cook evenly. When it’s ready, remove the pan from the oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and cool completely.
When cool, transfer the granola to a large bowl, storage jar, or zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the chocolate, and stir (or shake, if using a jar or bag) to mix.
Store in an airtight container. Serve with plain milk; soy milk and plain yogurt overwhelm the chocolate flavor.
Yield: about 5 cups
tags: vegetarian, can be pareve