promises, promises (Fermented Cocoa Granola of Awesomeness: a recipe)

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Yes, this is the stuff. Several batches were tested and devoured in record time, so I thought it best to trial the cocoa/maple ratio at double volume before presenting the recipe to you. You really do need to go for quantity here, people. Please, just trust me on this point.

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I’ve been making riffs on this fantastic recipe for quite some time, and while we love it with all manner of hearts and rainbows, there was just something missing. One day, as we were at the Co-op doing the usual bulk bin rounds, I realized that we, somewhat absently, tend to get a little chocolate granola for the road on a fairly regular basis. It’s locally made, and it’s delicious, but in my opinion, it’s an out-of-hand treat that is far too sweet for the breakfast table. Also, the price of ready made granola, even out of the bulk bin, can be prohibitive from, say, actually buying in bulk.

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Okay, so don’t cry when you see the list of ingredients. It’s not cheap to make it this way, either. It is, however, far more bioavailable and nutritionally satisfying, not to mention delicious, and I find those benefits to outweigh the initial investment in quality ingredients (which turn out to cost less per pound of finished product than the unfermented bulk bin version, anyway). You should end up with at least 2 gallons of finished product, which you are likely to consume at a slower rate than it’s non-fermented cousin, as this is dense with healthy fat and sustaining calories.

Things you need:

16 cups rolled oats
1 cup butter (I prefer salted) and 1 cup coconut oil, melted together and cooled slightly
3 cups whole yogurt
4 cups water

Things you need to do:

Mix the oats, butter, coconut oil, yogurt, and water together in a large bowl. Cover with a clean towel or cloth and let sit at room temperature for 24-36 hours.

More things you need:

2 cups maple syrup (or a combination of maple syrup and honey…maple flavor compliments the chocolate more favorably than using all honey)
1 1/2 cups raw cacao powder
3 teaspoons sea salt
2+ (to taste) teaspoons cinnamon

More things to do:

Mix the maple syrup, cacao powder, salt, and cinnamon. You made want to heat the sweetener a bit to thin it out for mixing. It takes some doing with a whisk, but perseverance will get all the cocoa powder incorporated and smooth. Add this to your oats and mix well. I mean really well. This is the hardest part and takes some serious elbow grease. Your soaked oats well be a heavy, glommed up mess. Use a wooded spoon to force the sweetener mixture into the oat mixture. You will exhaust your mixing arm, but remind yourself that it will be worth it.

Spread the mixture evenly onto the trays of a dehydrator (my preferred method), or onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Only do this with an oven if you can set it to a really low temperature and you’re around to keep an eye on it.

In the dehydrator, I give it about 24 hours on 115 degrees. In the oven, you’ll have to monitor closely and timing will vary greatly. Report back, if you will, and I can incorporate that info here. You know it’s done when it’s thoroughly dry and will snap apart.

And lastly (also, optionally):

I don’t find this step to be optional, because I think to play with one’s food is an act of virtue, especially when you’re upping the delight factor in consuming said food. Here is where your personal tastes and artistic flair get in on the action…don’t cage that creative beast! I like to add the following:

2 cups shredded coconut, lightly toasted
3 cups sliced “crispy” almonds
2 cups currants, raisins, or juice-sweetened dried cranberries

Pecans and/or walnuts are a fantastic replacement for/addition to the almonds. Goji berries, dried blueberries or cherries, um…apples? Use what you like!

Other flavor options we’ve tried are adding vanilla and/or almond extract, or chili powder in the sweetening step. Oh, and more cinnamon. One time, I had recently dehydrated mint leaves in the dehydrator and didn’t want to deal with cleaning it thoroughly and ended up with a mint-infused cocoa granola, which was quite delicious. Tell me your favorites!

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Beezer likes it, too.

I’m a day late, but can I play in the This Week in My Kitchen blog hop? Why yes, yes I can.

Cheers!

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Eight: 52 and Things

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the 52 project.
Portraits of my main squeeze(s) every week.

Winter Break: It was quiet, and full even though we didn’t go anywhere vacation-ish. Work and play happened, like any other week, but it was a little richer with friends and warm drinks. A nod to the joys of Winter, yes, but feeling in the end like a readiness to say goodbye. We’re still in it; just a thing we have to admit to ourselves. The position of the sun makes 12 degrees feel somehow more tolerable than even just a few weeks ago, and brightly glittering snow is so much more hopeful than dull, grey snow under an overcast sky, so I think we’ll manage.

I’m deep in scheming and dreaming up a trip out West in April to visit family and teach some workshops. Places I’ll hit this go ’round: Portland, OR, the SF Bay Area, and Denver, CO. I’ve got the latter location covered for a venue, but am still contemplating the other two. A new spinning workshop, and the tried-and-true nuno felt class are on the table. More information will be available soon, but if you have any requests, ideas, venues to suggest or offer, do let me know! All is still in the planning stage.

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In other news: granola. I’ve posted about what I like to call Culture Crunch before, and I totally forgot about how I used to sprout sesame seeds to add to the mixture. Next time! This time, I went back to the original recipe that inspired my fermented granola experimentation and played with some of the post-fermentation wet ingredients. To the honey mixture, which I increased a tad, I added a generous scoop of peanut butter, probably about 3/4 cup for a doubled recipe, and a few heaping tablespoons of raw cacao powder. As soon as it comes out of the dehydrator, I’ll add soaked and dried sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toasted coconut, and raisins. A little taste-testing reveals that this is a subtle flavoring, not too sweet, which means it will be perfection once the raisins are added. I wasn’t going for cloying, just comforting. Win!

Culture Crunch

Firstly, check out the sidebar…WE DID IT!

The last two days of the pledge time were crazy and just…totally amazing. I had hoped and hoped, but really was not at all sure it was going to come together…what a gift, what an astonishing gift. I can’t wait to dole out the rewards to my backers, but I also want to show my appreciation to those who sent my project well wishes instead of cash, who posted to their blogs and shared the link to my project (you know who you are)…starting in March and for the rest of year, watch this space for a monthly giveaway. I want you all to feel the love, oh yes I do. Project updates and giveaways will be posted/hosted here as well as Facebook, so check the sidebar for the shop page there and give it a “like.”

I did get caught up in the anticipation of the Kickstarter campaign and my best intentions for posting a recipe “tomorrow” fell away and turned into “next weekend.” Ahem. Better late than never, I say, so onward to get a little culture on:

I used to get a fabulous cultured granola from Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley, CA. Their granola had almonds (can’t have ’em) and was far too sweet for my taste, but I loved the idea of it and since we moved back to VT have been working on perfecting my own version. I think I finally hit it on this latest batch. Crunchy, lightly sweet, and simplified. Previous batches had too many seeds, nuts and dried fruit goings-on…it was noisy and I prefer now to make a “base” that I can add whatever extras I feel like adding on a particular morning. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like raisins.

I warn that this recipe is not exact. You’ll have to play with it a bit to discover what works for you, but here are the basics for whipping up your own Culture Crunch:

Three days before: Put one cup of unhulled sesame seeds in a quart-sized mason jar, fill with water and fit with a sprouting lid. Leave to soak overnight and then rinse and drain. Rinse/drain three or four times per day, and you should have tiny sprouts by the second or third day.

Two days before: Using a mixer, blend 1 – 1 1/2 quarts yogurt (I used homemade raw-milk yogurt) with 1 stick of softened butter, preferably cultured and salted butter. Add three quarts – 1 gallon rolled oats (I used organic thick-cut rolled oats). Set aside somewhere warm-ish and leave it alone for two days.

The big day: Mix your sprouted sesame seeds into the oat mixture. Add two cups or so shredded coconut. In a saucepan, melt at least 1/2 stick of butter, 3/4 cup or more (to taste) maple syrup and about 1 cup of nut butter (I used peanut butter this time, but cashew or almond butter are also awesome). Heat gently to melt and blend the butters and syrup. You could also use coconut oil and/or honey in this step.

Add the wet mixture to the oat mixture. Now, here’s where you can add extra seeds or spices. I’ve used sunflower and pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger…this time around, all I added was a pinch of salt to keep it simple, but the possibilities are endless.

To preserve all the culture-y goodness, keep your oven below 200 degrees if you can. 150 degrees is ideal. Bake for several hours, testing every so often for crunch achievement. When the granola has cooled, you can add nuts and dried fruit, or leave it as is. I store this granola in a mason jar in the fridge and freeze the extra. It’s nutrient-dense and a little goes a long way. I love to heat it gently with a little raw milk.

 

YUM.

In other news, Gather Here opens for business TODAY! 10am – 7pm!

Penny. She’s there waiting for you.

And now to spend some time with my new best friend. And yes, that is a pie plate in the door.

Big snowflakes, hot tea and the spinning wheel round out the necessary ingredients for a perfect day.

Next time, some introductions:

Teasel and Tweed, btw, thank you for all your support!

xoxoxo