I have been dreaming about something like this for a long time, inspired both by the nut-studded chocolate bars one finds at good chocolate shops in Paris — such as the one that’s on our desktop calendar for this month — and by the tradition of chocolat au couteau, or knife-cut chocolate, a generous slab of chocolate that is broken into smaller chunks for sale by the weight.
The two ideas merged into this chocolate bar, whose surface is covered with a nicely toasted, nutty granola spiked with a healthy amount of sea salt and some freshly grated cinnamon.
I find the concept of rough-cut chocolate curiously enticing, and have often snacked on a handful of granola with a side square of dark chocolate. Somehow the two ideas merged into this chocolate bar, whose surface is covered with a nicely toasted, nutty granola spiked with a healthy amount of sea salt and some freshly grated cinnamon.
And not just any cinnamon: I recently received a sample of the new cinnamon harvest from my partner Cinnamon Hill, a small British company I love that imports top-quality cinnamon sticks grown in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and every time I use their stuff in my cooking and my baking, I am reminded of the stark difference freshness makes — it’s just not the same spice at all.
I was so smitten with the cinnamon sticks and the gorgeous wooden grater they initially sent me that I bought the cinnamon lover’s pack for my mother for Christmas last year. And now they’ve created a lower-price, injection-molded version of that grater, based on the original design, with an identical grater blade, and also manufactured in the UK (not China!), which makes it an even more affordable gift option for the baker who has everything.
These cinnamon granola chocolate bars are the perfect recipe to dip your toes in the homemade chocolate pool if you’ve been wanting to try it this holiday season, giving you a great but low-risk opportunity to temper chocolate. Tempering chocolate means bringing it to three different temperature levels (high, low, medium) to control the crystallization of the cacao butter, and it translates to a chocolate that is glossy when set (as opposed to matte with white marbling), and breaks off with a clean, satisfying snap.
My plan for my inaugural batch of granola chocolate bar is to just nibble my way through it, bit by bit and chunk by chunk, but I ambition to make more, package it up, and give it away as an edible gift.
This is a process all chocolatiers apply to their chocolate and it may sound a little intimidating at first, but it is a lot less fiddly than it sounds and the result is plenty worth the effort. It does require a digital thermometer with a probe, so if you don’t have one or it just sounds like too much of a project, I’ve included instructions to skip that step.
My plan for my inaugural batch of granola chocolate bar is to just nibble my way through it, bit by bit and chunk by chunk, but I ambition to make more, package it up, and give it away as an edible gift. I can also imagine how charming it will be to bring this on a small platter when I have guests over for coffee during the holidays, with a few chunks broken off and a parmesan knife for chocolate enthusiasts to help themselves to more.
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- 180 grams (2 cups) rolled grains of your choice (such as oats, spelt, quinoa, etc. choose gluten-free grains as needed)
- 120 grams (1 cup) whole almonds and hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)
- 3 tablespoons honey or rice syrup
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon [sc:cinnamon_link]
- 400 grams (14 ounces) high-quality bittersweet couverture chocolate (available from baking supply stores), at least 60% cacao, finely chopped (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and grease a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, combine the rolled grains, nuts, coconut oil, honey, and cinnamon, and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until toasted and lightly browned, stirring well every 10 minutes. Let cool completely, and measure 120 grams (1 cup) of the granola. (You can keep the rest for topping yogurt and snacking.)
- Line a 20-by-20-cm (8-by-8-inch) square pan with parchment paper as neatly as possible, and use clothes pins or chip clips to keep it in place.
- Have ready a large bowl of ice water, and a food thermometer with a probe.
- Put the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl and place it over a pan of just-simmering water over low heat.
- Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring frequently to ensure even melting, until the chocolate reaches 50-55°C (122-131°F). Don't let it go over 55°C (131°F).
- Place the top bowl containing the chocolate over the bowl of ice water and, scraping the bottom of the bowl and stirring continuously, bring the chocolate down to 28-29°C (82-84°F).
- Return the bowl of chocolate over the pan of just-simmering water and, still stirring continuously, allow the chocolate to come up to 31-32°C (88-90°F). Don't go over that temperature or you'll have to start the tempering process from the start.
- Immediately pour the chocolate into the prepared pan.
- Melt the chocolate slowly in a double boiler, stirring frequently to ensure even melting, and remove from the heat as soon as it's entirely melted. Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle the surface of the chocolate evenly with the salt first, and follow with the 120 grams (1 cup) granola you've set aside. Use the tip of a rubber spatula to push the granola topping gently down into the chocolate, to make sure it's securely embedded.
- Allow the chocolate to set at cool room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Lift the parchment paper from the pan, loosen it gently from the sides of the chocolate, and break the chocolate into chunks, with your (clean, dry, and cool) fingers or a parmesan knife.
- The chocolate will keep for several weeks in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
I prefer dark chocolate over any other kind, but you can use milk chocolate here if you prefer. The target tempering temperatures to use then are 45-48°C (113-118°F) for the initial melting, 26-27°C (79-81°F) for the cooling phase, and 29-30°C (85-86°F) for the final working temperature.