Happy Valentine’s Day!
All around the world, in every corner of the internet, people are posting or googling recipes for things like chocolate fondants and profiteroles, planning in what they will eat with their other half this evening and exactly what it is that constitutes the ultimate romantic dessert.
So today I’m bringing you breakfast in the form of my favourite chunky granola . . .
Valentine’s is one of those days I’ve always been slightly unsure about whether to celebrate. If you’re single it’s the ultimate salt in the wound, the kind of day that can end in crying under the covers, excessive watching of Bridget Jones on DVD and one too many glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re in a relationship, it’s the one day of the year when your love for each other feels strangely less unique, cooing couples, giant bouquets of flowers and grand gestures making appearances at every turn.
That’s not to say I’m a complete scrooge about the day. Any excuse to tell my fiancé that I love him and – almost as importantly – any excuse to get stuck into some delicious food and indulgent desserts is absolutely fine by me. We won’t be eating out this evening (overpriced set menus and restaurants full of awkward first dates aren’t really my idea of a romantic evening) but there’s a sofa with our name on it and a tub of homemade milk chocolate cookie ice cream (this stuff is so good, I promise to post it soon) just waiting to be
attacked shared with two spoons.
In the morning, the Valentine’s merchandise cleared from the shops and all the fuss over for another year, we’ll wake up and eat breakfast together. Slow spoonfuls, sleepy smiles and a shared experience so much more important and – dare I say it – romantic than the forced celebrations of the night before.
I’ve talked before about grand gestures versus the little things in life and I’m happy to reiterate my point today: you can eat as many incredible dinners out as you like with someone, but it’s only once you’ve enjoyed breakfast together that you’ll know they’re a real keeper.
This granola recipe is the best I’ve come across so far. Sweet enough to feel like a treat but packed full of nutrients and slow-releasing energy in the form of nuts, seeds and oats, it’s the perfect indulgent start to the day. A mixture of maple syrup and honey means that no one flavour dominates but the two are interchangeable here, as are the oils.
Granola is infinitely adaptable to personal taste so by all means swap in other nuts, seeds and fruit, add a little toasted coconut or even some cocoa nibs or chocolate chunks. I totally understand if you can’t quite cope with a Valentine’s Day recipe that doesn’t involve some sort of chocolate.
Chunky Homemade Granola (adapted from an Ottolenghi recipe)
For the syrup
100ml maple syrup
100ml runny honey
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp olive oil
Large pinch salt
For the granola
200g whole rolled oats
100g jumbo rolled oats
60g whole unskinned almonds
60g pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp flax seed
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C. Line two baking trays (or one large one) with baking parchment. Combine the oats, nuts and seeds in a medium bowl.
Combine all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and warm gently over a low heat. Pour the syrup over your oat, nut and seed mixture and stir well to combine.
Spread the granola over your two trays, forming a layer no thicker than 1cm. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally but being careful not to break up the clumps (unless you prefer a looser granola, in which case stir away).
Once the granola has a dark, honey-like colour, remove from the oven. Don’t worry if it’s still a little soft: it will harden as it cools.
While the granola is still warm, but not hot, fold in the chopped apricots and break up any clusters that are too big.
The granola will keep in an airtight container for up to four weeks. Being seriously moreish, I can’t imagine it would last that long in many households.