We’re a family obsessed with cherries; we get through tons of them in the summer. Then in the winter, Mr Husband generally requests something to do with black cherries and chocolate for an alternative Christmas pudding. So here it is in a healthy, breakfast form.
Granola is definitely something to jump out of bed for – it’s easy to make in advance (Sunday night cook-off) – and can be as healthy and as indulgent as you fancy. Black cherries can be tough to get hold of in the UK – the best quality are often steeped in kirsch; fabulous but maybe not for breakfast! Instead, I’ve just used a 425g tin here. The fruit has been soaked in a light syrup – I’ve not managed to find any just in juice. I drain and rinse them really well before using. Tesco sells frozen black cherries but I’ve not tried these yet.
As this granola does not contain banana or any maple/agave syrup, it’s not the sweetest – especially as cacao can be quite bitter. For this reason I have left out hemp powder – which I normally throw in breakfasts for its protein boost. I’ve included fellow super powder maca, though, as it has a sweeter taste and is good for endurance. Feel free to play around with the nut and seeds ratio I’ve suggested. I like almonds to echo the black cherries through their slightly marzipan flavour whilst pecans have a fabulous texture and are firm friends with chocolate.
You will need 2 large baking trays lined with greaseproof paper or a baking liner. Alternatively, use a silicon baking tray.
Ingredients (around 5-6 servings)
4 medjool dates soaked in 80ml water
400g tin of black cherries (or 250-300g fresh/frozen black cherries)
50-75g nuts such as almonds and pecans
150g oats – gluten free or conventional
50-75g dried cherries
20g coconut oil
30g almond butter
1-2 tbsp maca powder (optional but recommended)
½ -1 tbsp cacao powder
1-2 tsp cinnamon
20g pumpkin seeds
20g sunflower seeds
20g linseed/flaxseed (optional)
Preheat the oven to 150 (fan)/170 (conventional)
- Stone the Medjool dates and leave them to soak in 80ml of hot water. Drain and rinse the black cherries well in a sieve/colander and then shake as much water out of them as possible. Leave to drain.
- Stir up the dry ingredients first: break up the nuts into chunks either in the food processor or a bash them with a rolling pin/other heavy object in a freezer bag. Mix them up with the oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and dried cherries.
- Blitz the dates and their soaking water up with about a third of the cherries until you have a purée.
- Melt the coconut oil and nut butter on a very low heat in a saucepan, then pour this into your date and cherry mix. Blend again until smooth, adding the cinnamon, maca and cacao. Taste to gauge how much cacao you need – add more cinnamon for sweetness.
- Tip this paste into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well; using your hands works best.
- Chop the remaining black cherries in half and throw them in. Don’t worry if the mixture is too stiff to incorporate them properly – you’ll get the chance to do this when you cook the granola.
- Spread the mixture on the greaseproof paper as thinly as possible and put the baking trays into the oven.
The granola needs to cook for about 45-50 minutes, but to avoid really clumpy chunks, you will need to regularly stir/redistribute to allow the oven heat to evenly dry it out. Check it after 15 minutes and use your hands/spatula/fish slice to turn it over. Check after another 10-15 minutes and break it up into smaller chunks and then maybe have a final stir in another 10 minutes.
- The granola may still seem a bit wet when the cooking time is up but will firm up and dry out as it cools. Once it is cold, store in airtight containers for up to a week.