Orange Pecan Granola

#RecipeUpTop (details below):

  • 3 cups oats;
  • 1.5 cups shredded coconut;
  • 1.5 cups pecan halves;
  • 2 egg whites;
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil;
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar;
  • 1/4 cup honey;
  • Orange zest (to taste);
  • Ground cinnamon (to taste);
  • Salt (to taste);
  • Chia/flax mix (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix well to combine. Spread on a parchment or silicone-mat lined cookie sheet, and bake at 250F for 1.5 hours, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool fully, before breaking into chunks for storage.

The Details

For whatever reason, we don’t do a lot of cold cereal in this house. It’s not because we don’t like it, or have some moral aversion, we just… don’t buy it. That said, we do keep a constant supply of this granola around to scratch that itch, and just for out-of-hand snacking. As a great side benefit, it makes your entire house smell incredible.

This is another of those recipes that can be endlessly adapted once you have the initial method down. I’ll point out the various points for modification as the arise, but this one is pretty straightforward.

Step one: whip your egg whites until foamy:

Believe it or not, this is the first part of the recipe that can be changed with dramatic outcome. The egg whites help with the crispy-ness and self-adhesion of the final product. The end sheet of granola will break off into big chunks. If, however, you want a more loose cereal, or have dietary issue, you can skip the eggs entirely.

Step two: Everyone in the pool:

Use regular ol’ oats here, not the “quick cook” variety.
If you want, you can chop down the pecans. I find they break up just fine in the mixing process.
Honey.

A quick note about the flax/chia mix. It’s completely optional, but I find it adds a little extra texture without any weird flavors, and it’s (allegedly) good for you.

When we’re talking about the orange zest, cinnamon, and salt, the quantities are completely up to you. As to the salt, you really only need a small pinch to wake up the oats and other flat-flavored ingredients. As to the cinnamon and zest, I usually grate it with a microplane until the ghost of granolas-past tells me to stop.

This is actually a blood orange, which I used because it’s what I had in the refrigerator. You can use a regular orange, tangerine, clementine, or whatever you like.

This is the next big fork in the road for customization. This is the sort of “character building” part of the process, and whatever you add will perfume and permeate the final product. For example, I’ve substituted out the orange, and added allspice and nutmeg for a holiday granola. Similarly, you could use pumpkin spice in the fall, or ginger and lime zest in the spring.

Step three: spread it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or one of these silicone mats, and get it in a 250F oven. You want a single layer here for maximum crunch, but if you want a chewier product, form it into a thick square:

Bake for 1.5 hours, but be sure to spin it at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.

Step four: let it cool, and break it up as desired for storage:

One last note: if you’re interested in adding dried fruit (like raisins), do it at the end, after cooking. My experience is the long roasting time tends to make fruit additions bitter, and sometimes even burned. It’s much easier to just mix them in after, or even wait until you’re having a bowl to throw in whatever you want.

Serving suggestions? Use it to top yogurt, or serve it like cereal with milk and fresh fruit, or just eat it by the handful every time you walk through the kitchen.

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