Hazelnut Cherry Granola with Chocolate Coconut Bites

I emerged from winter hibernation with boundless energy and an inability to sit still. With the last cold days behind usfingers crossedI've been spending less time in the kitchen and more time out of the house. Even though I moved to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in August, a new teaching job and looming winter chill kept me close to home. Now that the warm weather is here, I am finally exploring the city I have called home for the last nine months. When the weekend arrives, I dash out of the house in the morning and return late in the evenings, on a mission to find the most walkable lake and best place for non-dairy ice cream.

For now, I am indulging myself in this new spirit of adventure. Soon the city will grow familiar, this curious feeling will fade, and I'll no longer need Google maps to lead me home.

Granola has been my go-to for breakfast the past few weeks. Both simple and filling, it pairs well with plain yogurt and almond milk alike. Over the years, I have played around with my favorite granola recipe, testing out  different variations. This granola recipe is another variation, but it may soon become a classic in my kitchen. Oats, quinoa, and hazelnuts form the base of this granola. With honey and dried cherries for sweetness, almond butter for richness, and cinnamon for warmth, it forms a satisfying meal.

To add something a little extra, I sprinkled the granola with chocolate coconut bites. They may be a bit decadent, but you can chop them to the size of your liking and add as many or few as you'd prefer. 

Hazelnut Cherry Granola is a hearty recipe that can serve as both a meal or a snack. With hazelnuts, oats, and quinoa forming the bulk of the dish, the cherries act as a sweet accent. The chocolate coconut bites are optional, but they add a new dimension to the overall flavor and texture. Stir into plain yogurt or shower with milk and enjoy on a quiet weekend or as fuel for a day out exploring.

One Year Ago: Cranberry Almond Granola and Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Loaf
Two Years Ago: Honey Almond Quinoa Granola and Coconut Tapioca Pudding
Three Years Ago: Pita Chips, Almond Joy Bars, Mango Lassi, PB & J Muffins, & Almond Butter Chocolate Cookies
Four Years Ago: Grapefruit Soda, Irene's Orange Rolls, S'mores Cupcakes, and Mai Tai
Five Years Ago: Thin Mint Brownies, Strawberry Pancakes, Roasted Pineapple, and Lemon Thins

Hazelnut Cherry Granola with Chocolate Coconut Bites
Inspired by Will Frolic for Food

Yields 5-6 cups

Hazelnut Cherry Granola
3 cups (270 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 cup (85 grams) quinoa
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (78 mL) coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup (80 grams) almond butter
1/2 cup (170 grams) honey*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white, optional**
1/2 cup (80 grams) dried cherries, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, quinoa, chopped hazelnuts, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, almond butter, honey, vanilla, and egg white until uniform. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and stir until evenly coated.

Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. If the egg white was omitted, stir halfway through baking; if it was added, do not stir the granola and leave it to set while baking. Cool completely before storing. Stir in dried cherries.

Chocolate Coconut Bites
3 ounces (85 grams) semisweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup (30 grams) unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional

In a small bowl, stir together the melted chocolate, coconut flakes, and chia seeds. Using an offset spatula, spread it into a 1/4-inch layer on a sheet of wax paper. Place in the freezer until solidified, about 10-15 minutes. Chop into coarse pieces, similar to the size of the hazelnuts. Stir into granola only when granola is completely cooled.

*Substitute maple syrup for the honey and eliminate the egg white for a vegan version.

**The egg white binds the granola together for a chunkier texture, allowing you to break it apart into small or large pieces of your choosing. If you prefer a looser granola, omit this ingredient.