Earlier this month when we went to the beach, I stocked our car snack bag with a few bags of granola that Nature Valley had sent my way. Believe it or not, I’m usually anti-chocolate when it comes to breakfast, so I’d never tried a chocolate or chocolate chip granola before. Not long into our trip, we busted open the bag of Oats ‘n Dark Chocolate, and dug in. Suffice it to say, we were totally hooked by the second handful. I loved the mild, plain-ish flavor of the oats combined with the dark chocolate. It was sort of like eating crumbled up oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Which is never, ever a bad thing.
It didn’t take very long before it was decided that I needed to try recreating the granola at home. I made my first batch with chopped dark chocolate, but that turned into a terribly messy event. The chocolate never set after coming out of the oven, which rendered it pretty much impossible to eat with your hands.
On to round number two… I took my favorite crunchy granola recipe, stripped away all of the nuts and dried fruit, and simply added two cups of chocolate chips. This turned out a much better result, seeing as how chocolate chips generally hold their shape when baked, and will remain firm enough when cooled down to be handled. Success!
If you’re down with chocolate in your breakfast, all you need is 10 minutes and some pantry staples to whip this together. If you’re not down with chocolate for breakfast, then you have a fabulous afternoon snack. Thank goodness for road trips or I may have never realized what I was missing in the whole chocolate chip granola department!
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk in the vegetable oil to combine. Add the oats and chocolate chips and fold the mixture together with a rubber spatula until all of the oats and chocolate chips are thoroughly coated.
Turn the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin, even layer. Using a stiff metal spatula, compress the oat mixture until very compact.
Bake until the top is lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Remove the granola from the oven and let cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour. Break the cooled granola into pieces as large or as small as you like. The granola can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.