While stores have been stocking all kinds of crazy pumpkin spice concoctions since August, I’m just getting started with pumpkin spice season in my own kitchen. It’s simply been too darn hot to obsess over those belly-warming spices. Now, that the weather is finally cooling in So Cal, I’m all-in on the obsession.
My first recipe is for pumpkin spice granola. A classic and easy to make. Homemade granola is so much better than store-bought if for no other reason than you can control the amount of sugar added. I find most if not all ready-made granola, whether artisanal or big brand in a box, way too sweet. I used a simple combination of maple syrup and brown sugar in a smaller portion than you would find in store-bought. I also find that some granola can be oily, as well. Using coconut oil in place of canola or sunflower oil in a moderate amount eliminates that problem.
Now, here’s my take on the whole pumpkin pie spice thing. The most important aspect of having a divinely spiced pumpkin product is in the spices themselves: The spices chosen. The proportions of the spices. And the freshness of the spices.
This got me to thinking about creating a pumpkin pie spice mix to my taste buds, with products that have a longer shelf life. I experimented with different spices and proportions and I think I’ve come up with a winner. I’ve included it with the recipe for the granola. Please note that I highly recommend grating your own nutmeg. You can buy the pods at specialty food stores and sometimes even find them at the local market. I also ground my own cardamom, cloves and allspice from seeds. That may be a bit much for the average cook so feel free to use ground. If you do want to grind your own, a rolling pin on a wooden board is all you’ll need. (See photos) Simply smash the pods and then roll vigorously until they’re ground down. Whatever spices you use, make sure that they are fresh!
To add protein as well as crunch to the mix, I used hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and pecans. I didn’t add dried fruit as I wanted to keep the granola super crisp in storage and was concerned it might get a bit soggy. For that reason, I recommend adding dried fruit to individual portions when you serve, if so desired.
This granola is delicious with ice-cold plant milk, yogurt or nibbled right out of the container.
Make sure to store the granola in an airtight container in your pantry.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola
3 1/4 cups whole rolled oats
2/3 cup hemp seeds
2/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw pecan halves, broken into pieces
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup dark amber maple syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 batch pumpkin pie spice mix (recipe follows)
Set the oven to 300 degrees with the racks in the middle and bottom. Cover 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and pecans. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over a low flame, gently heat the coconut oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, sugar and salt until the coconut oil is melted, stirring often to combine the ingredients, making sure the sugars don’t stick to the pan.
When the coconut oil is melted and blended into the other ingredients, turn off the heat and add the vanilla and the spice mixture, stirring briskly to incorporate the spices.
Drizzle the mixture all over the oat mixture. Stir up well until all of the oats and nuts are coated evenly with the pumpkin spice mixture.
Spread the mix evenly on the two prepared pans.
Put the pans in the oven on the middle and bottom racks.
Stir up the mixture every 10-15 minutes (make sure to set a timer) as well as rotate the racks of the pans. Middle to bottom and bottom to middle each time you stir up.
The granola should be browned and just about dried out after 40-45 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and let the granola dry out further for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan.
Store in an airtight container in the pantry.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
Makes enough for one batch of granola
1 T ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container if not using right away.
You can also double or triple the recipe to have on hand for other recipes. If you do that, use 2 T plus 1 tsp of the pumpkin pie spice mix for this recipe. Make sure that the spice mix is very well combined.