Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crunchy Millet Pumpkin Spice Trash Granola

As much as I love Garden of Eden for cheese, it fails me tremendously when it comes to other snacks.  Yesterday, for example, I spotted a 4-cup container of granola for $8.  Outrageous!

I baked this in vengeance after I got home, wanting to both one-up the price gougers and clean out my pantry of some dry goods.  I personally think this is much better than store-bought granola, which I don't eat except as an ice cream topping because it's usually way too sweet and full of oil.  This recipe is cobbled together from a few sources and uses applesauce and mashed pumpkin as the main binders.  It's not very sweet except for the dried fruit, but still spiced, very flavorful, and the millet adds a really unique texture.

Options for clumpage and textural variety.  When you're using a granola recipe that relies on high moisture/low-fat binders, sacrifices are unfortunately necessary to find a balance between clumps and crunch.  Either you bake the whole grains until the moisture is driven off (high crunch, low clumps), or turn some of it into flour and add oil which will hold more moisture in (low crunch, high clumps).

25% clumpage / 75% crunch - Leave the millet whole and use maple syrup to sweeten with no added oil/butter.  This is the easiest route since you can skip a step, but you'll get quite a lot of rogue non-clumped millet accumulating at the bottom of your storage containers.  This has it's own appeal of course but is kind of difficult to eat with a spoon.  Very crunchy with a texture of crushed Nature's Valley bars.

For 50% clumpage / 50% crunch - Grind 1/2 of the millet to a powder and add 1-2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil or butter.  The best of both worlds approach.

For 75-100% clumpage / low crunch - Grind 1/2 of the millet to a powder, use honey as a sweetener, substitute 1/2 cup of the rolled oats for wheat germ, and add 2-4 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter.  This version is super clumpy but will be rather soft and similar to the texture of crumbled power bars.

There is also a very fine line between "crisp" and "burnt."  If your oven is uneven or runs hot, don't let it get the better of you: rotate your pans halfway through cooking, watch them carefully, and don't forget to check the underside.  Evening out the edges with a spatula helps too, since thin areas or lonesome bits will turn black before you know it.

Crunchy Millet Pumpkin Spice Granola
 Makes 16 cups (probably more if you don't snack while you're making this)
Total time: 1 hour (Active time 20-30 minutes)

  • 5 cups (400g) oats
  • 1 cup (200g) uncooked millet, divided
  • 1 cup (80g) unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup (150g) nuts/seeds (I used a mix of sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, and whole flax seeds)

  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice OR a mixture like:
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
    • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (185g) unsweetened applesauce OR
    • 2 small granny smith apples, diced (peel on), simmered for 10 minutes with a large splash of water, and mashed with a fork
  • 3/4 cup (185g) mashed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (85g) molasses
  • 1/4-1/2 cup (80-160g) maple syrup or honey
  • 2-4 tablespoons (25-50g) melted coconut oil or butter (optional)

  • 1 cup in-shell toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1-2 cups chopped dried fruit (raisins, dates, dried cranberries, prunes, apricots, banana chips)

Preheat oven to 300F/150C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Grind half of the millet in a spice grinder or processor until it turns into a flour.  Combine ground millet with the rest of the first 4 dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine spices and wet ingredients in a separate medium bowl and mix well.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry bowl and mix well with a spatula until the dry ingredients are coated.

Dump the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheets and spread it out into a single layer (don't leave the edges skimpy or they are more likely to burn).  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is a light golden brown.  Check the underside after 20 minutes.

Remove baking sheets from the oven.  Carefully flip granola over using a large spatula in sections (you might want to swap the center sections with the edges to ensure even baking).  Sprinkle in pumpkin seeds and chopped dried fruit over the top and loosely mix in, but don't break up the clumps.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Cool completely on the baking sheets before transferring to airtight containers.

1 comment:

  1. I love it! I'm grossed out by the sweetness of packaged granola. This may do me just fine. Thanks for sharing!