Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate

By Lilian Dikmans

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These Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate are dairy-free, vegan and made with nuts, rolled oats, sweet spices and chunks of dark chocolate. The recipe gives you one big slab, like a giant granola bar, which you break up into pieces.

For a portable snack, you can break the granola into large, chunky clusters. For a breakfast cereal vibe, you can break it up into smaller pieces and serve with natural yogurt, coconut yogurt or your favourite milk.

To bind and sweeten the granola clusters, I use a combination of tahini, rice malt syrup and a small amount of coconut oil. I love the earthiness that the tahini gives to the granola. Combined with rice malt syrup, the granola isn’t overly sweet.

Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate
Store the granola clusters in an airtight jar

If you prefer a sweeter granola, you can use almond or cashew butter instead of tahini and honey instead of rice malt syrup. For a chocolate peanut vibe, you could use peanut butter instead of tahini!

How to get chocolate chunks to stick to your granola clusters

If you’ve ever made granola before, you’ll know that you can’t add chocolate chunks to the mixture before baking. This is because you bake granola in the oven for quite a while, so the chocolate just melts.

To get chunks of dark chocolate that stick to your granola clusters, all you have to do is sprinkle the chocolate chunks over the granola once it has started to cool, but is still warm from the oven. The chocolate chunks will melt slightly from the residual warmth to bind to the granola, without ending up a melted mess.

Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate melting gently to bind to the warm granola slab

To make the chocolate chunks for this recipe, I chop up a thick bar of 70% cocoa dark chocolate. Thinner bars, like Lindt chocolate, can also work, but instead of chopping them I would just snap the bar into large pieces with my hands.

If you’ve ever chopped a bar of chocolate into pieces, you’ll know that you end up with chunks plus a lot of smaller shards. If you sprinkle the chunks and shards onto the warm granola, the shards will turn to liquid and you will end up with a bit of a chocolatey mess.

Of course, thats’s totally ok! But if you want individual chunks of dark chocolate throughout the granola, this is what I do.

Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate
Adding the spiced tahini mixture to the nuts and oats

First, to reduce the amount of shards when chopping a bar of chocolate, it helps to have the bar at room temperature. If the bar is super cold from the fridge, you’ll get more shards as you chop.

Then, after chopping the bar into chunks, simply pick the chunks out from the remaining shards. You could save the shards to add to another recipe, like my Cookie Dough Oatmeal. But I just eat the leftover shards on the spot (cook’s treat for making the granola clusters)!

Ingredients for Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate

Rolled oats: I recommend using old fashioned rolled oats, as they are more robust than quick oats. I haven’t tested the recipe with quick oats, but would love to hear if you do.

Nuts: I like to use a combination of pecans, walnuts and almonds. Nuts provide healthy fats and some plant-based protein. Feel free to substitute other raw nuts if you prefer.

Pumpkin seeds: For extra crunch and nutrition. You could use sunflower seeds if you prefer.

Tahini: To help bind the granola clusters together, instead of using extra syrup and oil. Since tahini has quite an earthy flavour, you could use a nut butter like almond or cashew butter for sweeter granola clusters.

Rice malt syrup: To sweeten the granola clusters. Rice malt syrup keeps the recipe low fructose and only subtly sweet. If you prefer sweeter granola clusters, you could use honey instead.

Coconut oil: Only a small amount is used to help distribute the tahini and rice malt syrup throughout the mixture. I haven’t tested the recipe with another oil, but I imagine any oil would work, or melted butter if you don’t need the recipe to be vegan.

Fine sea salt: Essential, in my opinion, to bring out the flavours.

Ingredients for Granola Clusters with Dark Chocolate
Rolled oats, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, tahini, rice malt syrup, coconut oil, sea salt, cinnamon, allspice and dark chocolate

Cinnamon and allspice: My absolute favourite sweet spices! You could use mixed spice instead of allspice, or just cinnamon on its own. If you don’t have any spices at home, you can leave them out. But they really add such beautiful flavour to the granola clusters.

Vanilla extract: Works really nicely with the sweet spices. You can leave it out if you don’t have any. I would just avoid vanilla essence, as it always seems to have an artificial taste.

Dark chocolate: To make the granola clusters extra indulgent. You can use any chocolate you like, or leave the chocolate out if you prefer.

Serves
About 6 cups

Prep time
10 mins

Cook time
30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (90g) rolled oats
  • 1 cup (100g) pecans
  • 1/2 cup (50g) walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (80g) almonds
  • 1/2 cup (80g) pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup (80ml/78g) tahini
  • 1/3 cup (80ml/100g) rice malt syrup
  • 1/8 cup (30ml/28g) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup (80g) dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Method

  • 1
    Preheat your oven to 130°C fan-forced / 150°C / 300°F and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • 2
    Place the rolled oats, pecans, walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds into a large bowl and stir to combine. Mix the tahini, rice malt syrup, melted coconut oil, sea salt, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice together in a small bowl or cup until well combined. Tip the tahini mixture into the oat and nut mixture and stir until everything is well coated.
  • 3
    Spread the mixture out in an even layer on the lined baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 mins, turning the tray at the 15 minute mark so that the granola browns evenly.
  • 4
    Allow to cool on the tray until it’s just warm to touch (about 10-15 mins), then sprinkle over the chocolate chunks. You only want the chocolate to melt slightly to bind to the granola, but still keep its shape.
  • 5
    Once completely cold, break up the granola into pieces and store in an airtight jar or container.

Notes

When made with tahini and rice malt syrup, the granola isn’t overly sweet. If you prefer sweeter granola clusters, you can use almond or cashew butter instead of tahini and honey instead of rice malt syrup.

Oats naturally don’t contain gluten, but they are often processed on the same equipment as wheat so they can have traces of gluten. If you’re strictly gluten-free, you can buy gluten-free oats.

Nutrition

Serving size: 1/2 cup (made with 70% cocoa dark chocolate)
Energy: 1314kJ (314Cal)
Protein: 7.6g
Total Fat: 26.6g
Saturated Fat: 5.9g
Total Carbohydrate: 20g
Sugars: 8.3g
Dietary Fibre: 4.1g
Sodium: 173mg
Potassium: 243mg

Nutrition information is an estimate only. It may vary depending on the brand of ingredients used.

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Lilian Dikmans

Lilian Dikmans is an Australian model, Muay Thai fighter and founder of Real Food Healthy Body

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