Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Pecan Granola

It’s been a slightly stressful weekend for the Foodie family, thanks to some car trouble.  All the cooking plans I had for today evaporated in the wake of pursuing solutions to more pressing problems, like finding an auto repair shop that was open on Sunday.  (And let that be a lesson to me:  anytime you’re too invested in your own plans, you can be sure the universe is conspiring to come up with its own.)    I did, however, manage to toss together a batch of this Pumpkin Pecan Granola this evening, in an effort to get the week off to a positive start.

My recipe for Good Morning Granola is still a Foodie family favorite–but since it’s now officially fall, I was in the mood for something more pumpkin-and-spicy.  I also wanted to try a granola recipe with no added fat.  Usually, added oil or butter is what gives your granola its crunch; in this recipe, the maple syrup and brown sugar combine to create a sweeter crispness.  (Be sure to use real maple syrup.  I know it’s pricey, compared to maple-flavored syrups, but it’s worth the splurge.)  Another difference between the two recipes: this granola doesn’t include any fruit.  It’s just crunchy, not chewy, except for a smidge of coconut.  We in the Foodie family are raisin averse, but if you’re crazy for raisins, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to add a few.

I’ve tried this recipe with both old fashioned (whole) oats and their quick-cooking cousins, and I have to say that I prefer the former over the latter.  Some people prefer quick-cooking oats for granola because they do lend themselves to clumping more easily than old fashioned oats.  I can see the appeal, but I think there are ways around the flakiness of whole oats.  For instance:  when the granola comes out of the oven, it will still be sticky.  Use the back of a wooden spoon to press the granola into a flat layer.  Then let it cool completely, and as the sugar solidifies it will create clumps.  Not as many as you’d get with quick-cooking oats, I admit, but the texture is still nice.  (If you do make this recipe with quick-cooking oats, you’ll need to extend the baking time by about 10 minutes.  Doing a half-and-half mixture of old fashioned and quick-cooking oats is also an option.)

Finally, if you don’t have all the spices this recipe calls for, pumpkin pie spice is an easy substitute–start off with one teaspoon and adjust upward, according to your preference.  I love the combination of pumpkin and warm spices, so if the amounts listed below sound excessive to you, go with your gut.

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Pumpkin Pecan Granola

Ingredients:

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the first six ingredients. Add the oats, one cup at a time, stirring to coat them with the pumpkin mixture. Turn the oats onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread them evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir well. Bake 20 minutes more. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. The oats will still be slightly soft, but that's okay; they'll crisp up as they cool.

Set the cookie sheet on a cooling rack. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press down on the oats to encourage them to stick together. (This will help create granola clusters when the oats are cool.) Sprinkle the pecans and coconut over the top of the oats.

Wait until the oats are completely cool before transferring the granola to a container with a tight-fitting lid.

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