I feel like I’ve been trudging through mud all week. That’s a phrase my mom uses fairly often when she’s having a hard time getting stuff done. For some reason, I’ve always imagined that the mud is actually chocolate pudding, which offers a more delicious visual.
So I’ve been trudging through chocolate pudding all week. Obstacles here, there, everywhere! I can’t tell you how many trips to the grocery store I’ve made over the past few days. You know how it goes. The first grocery store is out of Brussels sprouts, the second doesn’t carry spring roll wrappers and the third store’s freezer section doesn’t offer any frozen spinach. Then you finally get home and realize that you forgot to put Parmesan on the list. Good grief.
That’s not just me, right? I’ve decided that my version of paradise includes a grocery store that carries everything I need. No, I take that back—my version of paradise includes a self-stocking kitchen. Why doesn’t that exist yet? It’s 2015!
I found myself day-dreaming about self-stocking kitchens while this granola filled my house with the heavenly scent of fresh orange and warm maple syrup. I’ve been on a granola kick again and this kind is my new favorite. It’s extra clumpy and extra delicious.
I always strive to use only natural sweeteners in my baked goods, but this one required a minor adjustment. I know from past experience that rubbing zest into sugar brings out the flavor of the citrus tenfold, so I rubbed the zest into a couple of tablespoons of sugar. That did just the trick!
I’ve also learned how to make extra clumpy granola. The key is to crowd the granola a bit after you toss it halfway through cooking. Use a spatula to squish it down into a thick, even layer. Then let the granola cool completely before breaking it apart. This batch actually had all night to cool and harden before I took these photos.
This granola is an irresistible snack, of course. It’s also fantastic with plain or vanilla yogurt for breakfast. You could add some fresh fruit if you’d like—clementine segments would be quick and delicious, and you can never go wrong with slices of ripe banana!
- Zest of 1 large orange, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar of choice
- 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (use certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free granola)
- 1½ cups raw pecans (or other nuts or seeds*)
- 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (if you're using standard table salt, scale back to ¾ teaspoon)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup melted coconut oil (or olive oil)
- ½ cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine the orange zest and sugar. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until it's bright orange and fragrant. This step will ensure that your granola is infused with orange flavor.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, pecans, salt, cinnamon and orange sugar. Stir to combine. Pour in the coconut oil and maple syrup. Mix well.
- Pour the granola onto your prepared baking sheet. Spread the granola into an even layer. Bake for 24 to 28 minutes (if you used honey instead of maple syrup, check at 22 minutes), stirring halfway, until the granola is turning lightly golden in color. The granola will crisp up as it cools.
- Let the granola cool before stirring in the dried cranberries. Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or keep it in the freezer for longer shelf life.
*Nut and seed substitutions: If you are using large, whole nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.) follow instructions as directed. If you are using small nuts or seeds, like pepitas, or large coconut flakes, wait to stir them into the granola until you remove it from the oven halfway through cooking.