It’s no wonder my dear mom always complained about my messes. “But I just cleaned that!” she’d say with a long sigh. I was a hands-on kid, always coming up with grand schemes for new projects and taking over the kitchen table just before dinner. I was a little tornado who paid no heed to the clean-up required in my aftermath.
These days, I am just a grown-up version of that little tornado, stretched to 5 feet and 7 inches tall but no less destructive. Just yesterday, in the process of making this granola, I managed to absent-mindedly spill half a bottle of vanilla extract in the kitchen, and thirty minutes later, a half cup of coconut flakes all over the sunroom. At least my assistant helped clean up the latter. I then piled up granola bowl dishes in my sink and promptly sprayed fresh pomegranate juice all over my just-cleaned countertops.
I now understand why my mother always complained that cleaning up after myself could be a full-time job. It’s the truth. Speaking of which, I’m now accepting applications for interns.
I promised you this granola three whole weeks ago and thought I just might manage to get it to you in time for the weekend. It would be a great way to spend a few minutes of down time on a leisurely Sunday afternoon, and the resulting batch will make plenty for hurried breakfasts during the work week. It’s full of my favorite winter-time ingredients—warming spices, candied ginger, pecans and maple syrup—and irresistibly crisp-ity crunch-ity.
Gingerbread GranolaCourse: Breakfast
Irresistible spiced granola with the flavors of gingerbread, including molasses, ginger and cinnamon. Sweetened with maple syrup and dried cranberries, this granola is gluten free as long as you use gluten-free oats. Recipe yields 8 cups granola.
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups raw pecans and/or walnuts
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (if you’re using standard table salt, scale back to ¾ teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup melted coconut oil (or olive oil)
⅓ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes* (optional)
⅓ cup chopped dried cranberries
⅓ cup chopped candied ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger. Stir to combine.
- Stir in the oil, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla. Turn the granola out onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and top with coconut flakes (if using). Stir up the mixture to make sure the granola cooks evenly.
- Return the pan to the oven for 8 to 11 more minutes, or until the granola is lightly golden on top. It will continue to crisp up as it cools.
- Top the granola with the chopped cranberries and candied ginger. Let the granola cool before breaking it into pieces and enjoying.
- Store the granola in an airtight container. It should stay fresh for 1 to 2 weeks. Store in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: I like to serve this granola with yogurt or milk and sweet winter fruit, such as broiled grapefruit, orange slices or pomegranate arils.
- NUT DETAILS: Raw nuts are preferable, but if you want to use pre-roasted nuts in this granola, mix them in after baking the granola. (They are liable to burn if you bake them along with the other ingredients.)
- *WHERE TO BUY COCONUT FLAKES: Look for them in the baking section at Whole Foods, health food stores or well-stocked grocery stores. The brands I see most often are “Let’s Do Organic” (green package) and Bob’s Red Mill.