What dessert evokes fall more than pumpkin pie?
The warm cinnamon-scented vapors curling enticingly around our noses as grandma opens the oven door, the luscious spicy creaminess topped with a cloud of whipped cream as we take a forkful after a belly-stretching holiday meal, or a hearty handheld slab of it gobbled for breakfast the morning after – leaving a sweet lingering pumpkin-spice aftertaste to remind us of the joys of fall flavors.
Are you salivating yet? Craving a mouthful of . . . mmm . . .mmm . . .pumpkin pie?
How about some pumpkin pie granola, instead? Same wonderful spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, same rich, fall pumpkin flavor, same subtle maple and brown sugar sweetness . . . plus a satisfying crunch and nutty pecan richness.
And you can eat it guilt-free for breakfast or a snack anytime. This granola is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants in the pumpkin, nuts, and seeds, plus the great fiber and health benefits in oats.
And, when your family or guests come in the door, you will get the pleasure of hearing them exclaim, “Do I smell pumpkin pie?” and you can answer “Even better – pumpkin pie granola. Want some?”
So, if pumpkin pie is the dessert that evokes fall, maybe this will be the breakfast (or anytime snack) that goes with it.
Kitchen Frau Notes: You could either use canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or make your own pumpkin puree – recipe follows, below.
This pumpkin pie granola recipe makes a lot, so you could easily halve it. If you’re using canned pumpkin, half a can is equal to 7/8 of a cup (200gm), which is 1 cup less two tablespoons. You can always use the other half can of pumpkin to put into smoothies, bake with, stir into a soup, or freeze for future use. However, I like to make the whole recipe of granola, and tuck half of it into the freezer in a heavy duty ziploc freezer bag to pull out later (or pop it into pretty gift bags and share with friends).
Why not make the whole batch while you’ve got the mess going already?
Pumpkin Pie Granola
Makes 12 cups (3 litres)
- 4 cups (400gms) large flake oats (sometimes called old-fashioned oats)
- 1 cup (150gms) pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup (120gms) sunflower seeds
- ½ cup (75gms) sesame seeds
- 2 cups (200gms) pecans
- 1 can (14oz/398gms) pumpkin, or 1¾ cups pumpkin puree (see below)
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 cup (200gms) brown sugar
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) allspice or cloves
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Roughly chop the pecans – just a few strokes of the knife – all you want is most of the halves chopped in half, but still lots of largish pieces.
In a large bowl, mix the oats, nuts and seeds.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Leave to sit for a few minutes for the brown sugar to soften, then whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the pumpkin mixture over the oat mixture and toss with a large spoon until everything is coated.
Divide the granola between two greased or parchment paper-lined (less mess) 9×13″ pans or rimmed cookie sheets.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, gently stirring and turning with a spatula every 30 minutes. You want to avoid breaking up the clumps (because they are the ‘funnest’ part to eat.)
It is ready when the granola at the edges of the pan is starting to get brown and crisp. The mixture will still be moist in the middle, but will crisp up as it cools. Watch carefully during the last 15 minutes of baking, because if it burns it is not pretty (voice of experience), but if it is not baked long enough, it will not become totally crisp after it cools, and will stick together when stored. The nice thing is, if it doesn’t get crisp enough, you can always stick it back into the oven for another 10 or 15 minutes to recrisp after it has cooled, and that will do the trick (again, voice of exerience). In my oven, I need the full 75 minutes, but you will have to watch and adjust the time to your oven.
Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool in the pan, stirring occasionally as it cools. (Breathe in the aroma – pumpkin pie, eh?)
When cool, remove to airtight containers for storage.
How to Bake a Pumpkin for Puree
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally. A small pumpkin ( 5 to 6 pound/2 to3kg) is the best size to work with.
Cut or break off the stem. Scrape the strings and seeds out of each half using a large metal spoon. You may have to scrape a bit off the pumpkin wall to remove the strings, but you don’t need to be too fussy and have it perfectly clean. Save the seeds to roast later.
Lay each half, cut side down, onto a cookie sheet. (Be smarter than me and remember to line your pan with parchment paper to make a breeze of clean-up!) Cover with foil.
Bake for 1 hour or more, until the pumpkin feels really soft when a fork is poked into it.
Remove from the oven and scrape the flesh, avoiding any dark brown bits, into the bowl of a food processor. Process until totally smooth. Alternately, mash with potato masher for a chunkier puree, which is fine for baking.
Tip the puree into a fine-meshed strainer over a bowl, and let strain until most of the liquid has dripped out. This shouldn’t take too long – 15 to 30 minutes will have it nice and thick, like canned pumpkin. (If you don’t have a fine-meshed strainer, line your strainer with several layers of cheesecloth or a clean dish towel).
Makes 2 to 3 cups puree.
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