I remember Count Chocula. I remember Toucan Sam, the Trix Rabbit, and the fact that the Flintstones were the spokestoons for the Pebbles cereals (both Fruity AND Cocoa). Why? Genius marketing. I do not, however, recall the actual taste of any of these in any sort of Proustian way from my childhood......because I grew up in one of those families. You know. Healthy cereal families. Muesli and cornflakes and, maybe just for fun, plain round Kix cereal (they're Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved, y'all).
You need to know this to fully understand why, the first time I encountered coffee & chocolate flavored cereal at the ripe old age of sixteen, I promptly lost my ever-loving mind. I was a few thousand miles from home, staying with my German host family for the summer, and their kitchen was endlessly fascinating to me. It was inside their cavernous, restaurant-style fridge that I discovered creamy Greek yogurt with fruit preserves for the first time (a few decades before it caught on back home), but that's an entirely different obsession story for another time.
The important part of this story is that in their pantry, I discovered crunchy granola clusters steeped in the essence of strong coffee (another thing I loved by the age of sixteen), along with actual dark chocolate flakes that melted just quickly enough on your tongue to keep you going back for the next bite. I was definitely--looking back on this now from the wisdom of adulthood--totally irrationally obsessed with this cereal, to the point where I'd snag a handful of it every time I passed the kitchen, at any hour of the day. Sorry, host family, I'm embarrassed to admit this now, but.....I'm the reason you were always mysteriously out of cereal! I'm sure they assumed they had a bizarrely specific pest problem. I couldn't resist the coffee & chocolate combination then, and I can't resist it now. Since I never found anything that compared to this cereal on American shelves, even though I can now buy all the sugary cereal I want (perversely, I don't, because #adulting)....I created my own version!
A quick note here on granola: I make a lot of variations on "healthy" granola, the kind with olive oil and dried fruit and flaxseed, etc. This is not one of those. In true sugary cereal fashion, it is a glorious combination of snacky things, including butter, sugar and chocolate. It will turn your cereal milk into sweet chocolatey nectar, like a milky coffeeshop mocha, and you should absolutely feel free to sip it afterwards without hesitation or shame. GET EVERY SINGLE DROP, IT'S AMAZING.
I eat a handful of this every time I pass the kitchen, and (sorry/not sorry), you probably will, too!
Coffee & Chocolate Granola
Makes: About 4 cups
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 egg white, beaten until foamy
- 2 oz. shaved or finely chopped dark chocolate (about 3 tablespoons)
- Preheat oven to 325, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter, sugar, coffee and salt, stir until completely melted and dissolved. Add oats, coffee and cocoa powder, toss with a rubber spatula until fully combined.
- Fold in beaten egg white gently, to create clumps. Spread mixture out on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes, remove and break up clumps gently to desired size. Let cool until barely warm, then sprinkle with shaved chocolate (it will melt slightly and stick to granola clumps). Once granola has cooled completely, store in an airtight container in the fridge for best results.