Minnesota hospitality looks like your friends, Lindsay and Bjork, planning an introductory weekend Up North with you. It looks like log cabins, green canoes strapped to cars, evergreen-lined highways, miles and miles of lake shore, and one serving left in a casserole dish (that no one dare touch).
It sounds like long Os, geese honking, extended good-byes, and Lake Superior crashing against the rocky shore. It tastes like scotcharoos, good coffee, granola and yogurt, and Swedish Pancakes. It smells like bonfires and pine. And it feels wool blankets, sweatshirts, and home. Minnesota is nice.
Being my first time Up North, I had nothing to offer planning-wise for our trip, so I made a huge bag of Cocoa Coconut Granola and designed an Up North Bingo for the drive. (Side note: Up North is a loose term for a trip anywhere from 1 to 5 hours north-ish, usually to a cabin near or on water. Take this definition with a grain of salt as a non-native, me, wrote it.)
I’m leaving you with both the granola (see below) and the bingo. To download the summer/fall edition of Up North Bingo, click here. There are 4 variations. If you print duplicates, you’ll have simultaneous bingos. Feel free to be liberal with the antlered animal. I crossed off mine while getting coffee at Caribou. Winter edition coming as soon as we make it up there, unless you offer suggestions in the comments sooner.
About the recipe. This salty, sweet granola is an adaptation of The Last Granola Recipe, which was an adaptation of my favorite small-batch granola, Marge Granola. Unlike Cocoa Pebbles, this wholesome breakfast cereal (or yogurt topper) doesn’t leave a nasty film on the roof of your mouth or a massive sugar crash. It’s noticeably salty, which is what makes it so good. If this amount of salt makes you nervous, use less and go from there.
Oooh look, there I am practicing my long Oooos again. I hooope you looove this granooola as much as we dooo. (Image from Bjork Ostrom.)
Cocoa Coconut Granola
A salty, sweet Cocoa Coconut Granola fit for breakfast cereal or as a granola topper. For minimal clean-up, use a 1 cup, 2/3 cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1/2 teaspoon for all your measurements, doubling and tripling where needed.
- 7 c. old fashioned oats
- 1 tbsp. coarse kosher salt*
- 4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 c. olive oil
- 1 c. pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 c. unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1 1/3 c. raw slivered almonds
- 2/3 c. raw pepita seeds
- 1/3 c. hemp seeds
Preheat oven to 350°, making sure two oven racks are installed—one in the traditional middle and one just below. Place two unlined baking sheets on the counter. Set aside.
Stir together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Minimalist tip: measure the salt before the cocoa powder to bypass cleaning the utensil. Additionally, use a 1/2 teaspoon measurement for all teaspoon measurements to cut down on dirty dishes.
Whisk together all the wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until the mixture thickens and an emulsion forms (the oil and syrup become one).
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, leaving about a tablespoon or so of the wet mixture remaining in the bowl. Set bowl aside for later use. Stir mixtures together until evenly coated. Divide the mixtures between two baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Place baking sheets on separate racks. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and stir, then place back in the oven, swapping rack positions for even baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes more and remove. At this point, the oats should be beginning to dry out. You'll want to make sure this is the case so as not to overcook the nuts in the next step.
Meanwhile, in the bowl with the remaining wet mixture, stir in the coconut and almonds. Toss to evenly coat. After the oats have baked for about 20-22 minutes, remove from oven and evenly divide the nuts on top of the baking sheets and stir together. Alternate racks again, and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes. Watch closely to keep nuts from burning. Toss and swap racks, if needed, to maintain an even bake. Once done, remove from oven, tossing occasionally while cooling. Granola will harden up as it cools. Once cooled, stir in the pepita and hemp seeds. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
*If using anything other than coarse kosher salt, cut the salt measurement in half.