Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola

A while ago, Costco carried a delicious, dessert-like chocolate-peanut-butter granola with little pieces of dark chocolate in it. My hubby was a big fan, and I was buying it often. Then they stopped carrying it to bring out the summery chocolate-berry version. Hubby was not happy. He prefers the other kind. The grocery store carries it, but if you think it was a high-end bag of cereal at a warehouse, let me tell you, the price was worse at the grocery store! I told him that I would see if I couldn’t make a version at home instead.

My sister-in-law, Melanie, gave me a recipe a couple of years ago for addictive peanut butter granola. (I don’t know the source of it, so I cannot give credit for it, unfortunately.) Hubby didn’t care all that much for it. I figured it wouldn’t take too much to turn that recipe into a chocolate variation that he would like. Some tweaking and we have a winner! It isn’t as sweet as the packaged version, but I prefer that. If you want, you can add mini chocolate chips, or break up some chocolate bark into your bowl to make it as dessert-y as the bagged version. Or cut up some fresh strawberries into it for decadence that is healthier….or do both! HA! Yum!

As you can see from the picture, it makes nearly a gallon. Believe me, it won’t last long once somebody discovers it can replace dessert!

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Granola
(Please note that I use as many organic ingredients as possible)

  • 6 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
  • mini chocolate chips or broken squares of chocolate bark, optional
  • fresh berries, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Measure the oats into a large mixing bowl. Put the peanut butter, maple syrup, stevia, vanilla, and salt in a 1 quart mixing bowl, whisking until well blended. Carefully stir the sifted cocoa powder to the peanut butter mixture until evenly distributed. (If you add the cocoa before this step, it becomes a thick mess that requires water to be added just to get things to smooth out. Then it takes longer to bake and is a bit rubbery.) Mix the chocolate mixture into the oats, stirring thoroughly, making sure that all of the oats are coated. I found that a long-tined fork works really well for this.

Spread the coated oats evenly onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir carefully, trying to get the granola from the ends of the cookie sheet into the middle and vice versa. Place back into the oven for 10-15 more minutes, paying close attention to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. (If you place a small piece of the granola from the middle of the cookie sheet on a plate or the countertop and it hardens, then the rest of the granola is done.) Cool cookie sheet on a baking rack until granola is cooled thoroughly. Store in an airtight glass container.

Serve with mini chocolate chips, or chocolate bark, and/or fresh berries and non-dairy milk.

Party Cereal (aka: Chocolate-Covered Cereal)

No, I haven’t totally lost my mind and am not suggesting you pull out the boxes of Cheerios and cartons of Silk at your next party.  😉  Instead, I am urging you to make some seriously addictive candy for your next hosting.  Or better yet…for your family for a simple dessert.  Everybody at my house expects this around Christmas, New Year’s, and at the Super Bowl “party” (which actually consists of just the family, so I’m not sure you can call that a party – lol.)

Chocolate-Covered CerealI have given up making a single batch.  I might as well not bother, because everybody will be whimpering that it is all gone and they “hardly got any.”  If you decide to make a double batch, you will need a very large mixing bowl ~ on the bottom mine claims it holds 8-qts.  For those of you moderates, or for those who don’t have to share, you will only need half that size.

Party Cereal (aka Chocolate-Covered Cereal)

  • 1 c. chocolate chips (about half a 12-oz bag…but a full cup really works the best)
  • 1/4 c. natural smooth peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 6 c. Barbara’s Bakery brand Shredded Spoonfuls cereal (you’ll need around 12 oz.)**
  • 1 c. powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate chips in a 1-qt. bowl in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir and heat for 1 more minute.  While it is melting, measure the cereal into a 4-5 qt. bowl.  Stir the melted chocolate so that any tiny pieces left unmelted will join the club.  Now mix in the peanut butter.  Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the cereal.  Using a very gentle folding motion, begin turning the cereal over and over, carefully scraping the spoon against the bowl and trying to avoid damaging the cereal pieces.  (You will still get some crumbs in the bottom that will eventually succumb to somebody’s spoon, but I don’t think there will be any complaints.)  Keep patiently stirring ~ and nudging any clumps apart ~ until the cereal is completely covered in chocolate and there are only the tiniest occasional bare spots seen.  Pour the powdered sugar over the top of the cereal and begin the stirring process again.  When all of the pieces are evenly colored and no bare chocolate spots remain, you are done.

Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator (or freezer if you wish).

** You can use other cereals, but they need to have crevices to hold onto the chocolate and they must be sturdy enough to withstand the stirring process.  Nature’s Path makes a Heritage Bites cereal that looks like it might work.  Wheat Chex might also work, but wouldn’t be as tasty.

Peanut Butter Fudge (or other nut butter)

PB Fudge

 

 

(Shown with a piece of chocolate-nut fudge in the glow of the setting sun streaming in my dining room window.)

 

If you or someone you know has allergies to peanut butter, don’t despair and turn away from this fudge!  I have successfully made it substituting either natural almond butter or sunflower seed butter.  I would imagine any natural nut butter would work, although cashew butter is pretty thick…you might have to decrease the powdered sugar for that one.

Peanut Butter Fudge

  • 1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional, depending on if your nut butter is unsalted or not)
  • 1 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 lb. (approximately 4 c.) powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

Have ready a 5″x9″, 8″x8″, or 10″x6″ pan, preferably glass, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

Three Fudges Preparation 005In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk and salt.  Stir in the powdered sugar until everything looks creamy and runny.  Now add the peanut butter.  (TRUST me on this – it does NOT work to add the peanut butter to the melted “butter” before the powdered sugar, even though every intuition in my mind says differently.  You will end up with a thick, streaky mess that you have to work long and hard to fix.) Continue mixing until everything is smooth.

You must press this into a prepared pan (you may need to use your hands to do this) so that it is not crumbly with air pockets later.  Cool and then cut.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container to keep it from drying out.