When I was growing up, one of the highlights of my week on hot summer days involved strapping on my sparkly jelly shoes, gathering up my hair into a big pouf using a fashionable scrunchie, clipping my high-tech yellow Walkman to my belt, and dashing to the corner store with allowance in hand to buy myself a treat.
(Yes, I really am that old. Now get off my lawn.)
Like most kids in the neighbourhood, I had various strategies for maximizing the allowance to treat ratio.
Personally, I preferred to skip over the less desirable treats (namely, anything that didn't contain chocolate) and go straight for the good stuff - the biggest chocolate bar you could possibly buy with a single dollar bill.
Some exceptions could be made, if the circumstances were right. Gum was okay as long as it came packaged up with desirable collectibles like Garbage Pail Kids or Thunder Cat stickers, and freezies were the treat of choice on particularly hot days.
And then there were Cherry Blossoms.
A Cherry Blossom is considerably smaller than most chocolate bars but still costs the same, so I'd normally have passed them over without a second glance... except for the fact that each foil-wrapped nugget of chocolatey deliciousness happened to contain a whole freakin' maraschino cherry in the middle. And on the list of things that ten-year-old girls think are totally awesome, whole maraschinos rank pretty high. (Which probably explains why I also thought Shirley Temples were the bees freakin' knees.)
It was that cherry that put Cherry Blossoms in a special category of their own - a splurge treat that must be savoured in small nibbles and carefully dissected until its gooey cherry centre was finally revealed.
It's been a long, long time since I last ran to the corner story for my candy bar fix, and I'm guessing at least 20 years since I last ate a Cherry Blossom (see above re: yes, that old), but they still have a special place in my heart. Right next to the Garbage Pail Kids and the jelly shoes.
So when I came up with this particular chocolate, almond and cherry granola concoction, I couldn't resist naming it after my beloved childhood treat, because it combines many of the same flavours. There’s sweet chocolate, crunchy nuts, and even those amazing cherries (albeit in dried format, since gooey candied cherries don’t exactly work all that well in granola).
And the best part is that the recipe makes a big batch, so you don't have to eat it in tiny nibbles to make sure it lasts.
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ¾ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup cocoa nibs
- ½ cup dark chocolate almond spread (see Note)
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing combine, combine the oats, dried cherries, almonds, coconut and cocoa nibs.
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the chocolate spread, honey and butter until melted and pourable. Pour over the oats, and stir until everything is evenly combined. Spread evenly over prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden-brown and fragrant, stirring gently halfway through.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then break up into manageable chunks and sprinkle with chocolate chips. (The chocolate chips will melt slightly... that's okay!) Let cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container for storage.