Friday, 13 October 2017

Chocolate Chunk Oat Bars

These bars are very crisp and crumbly bars. They do become a bit softer in storage.  The flavor is a like a mild toffee, so that makes it go great with coffee. As an option to get a more pronounced caramel flavor, I use Colombian Brown sugar called Panela Redonda, and I substitute Palm Sugar for the granulated sugar. These products are a little difficult to work with but the resulting deepening of flavor is worth it to me. .
2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour
½ cup oat bran
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12-24 chocolate chunks
1/2 cup any puffed cereal (quinoa, millet)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ozs shortening
4 ozs butter
½ Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored, finely grated
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
1.      Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper so that there is overhang of paper on all sides.
2.      Stir the sugars, grated apple, vanilla, and water over low heat in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat and allow to cool.
3.      Mix the flours, 1 cup of oats, oat bran, salt and baking powder, walnuts (if using) butter and shortening in a food processor bowl. Pulse a couple of times until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal, and starts to clump together.  
4.      Turn out into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining cup of oats and puffed cereal and mix well until the oats and millet are incorporated into the dough. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix. Knead a couple of times to form a solid dough.
5.      Turn the dough out into the baking pan and spread as evenly as possible, using the palm of your hand and a spatula moistened with oil or water. Place chocolate chunks across the top (visualize how you will score it in bars and place the chunks so that they fall within the cuts).
6.      Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into bars with a sharp knife. Cool. Lift parchment paper out of pan and place on a cookie sheet. Separate the bars slightly.
Decrease the oven temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for another 1 ½ hours. At the end of this time, turn off the oven but leave the bars in until the oven cools, and the cookies have dried out more. Store in an airtight container and try not to eat them all in one day!.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Nutty Oat Nuggets

Most of the times, I try to bake healthy oat cookies but there are other times I just fall off the wagon. So, from the get go, there is nothing healthy about these cookies! They are just sweet, delicious, chock full of nuts, nuggets of decadence. Note to self, do not make too often! They are high in fat, some of the good kind, others not so good. They have to be rationed to maybe one per day, and you have to resist the temptation to eat more! So stressful!

1 cup rolled oats
½ cup oat bran
½ cup flax meal
½ cup self-rising flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 chocolate chunks
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar tightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 lb shortening
¼ lb butter
1.      Stir the sugar and water over low heat in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla, and allow to cool.
2.      Mix all the dry ingredients, nuts, seeds, butter and shortening, in a food processor bowl. Pulse a couple of times until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal.  
3.      With the food processor going, add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix. Place a teaspoon of dough into a jumbo muffin liner, put a chocolate chunk in the center then cover with another teaspoon or two of dough.
4.      Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and put the cookies back in to bake for another 45 minutes.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Oatmeal Flax Clusters

These little cluster cookies are very addictive! They are packed with oats, flax and a variety of nuts and seeds. They are based on an old recipe for oatmeal cookies from a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1960s but I have substantially modified the original recipe both in ingredients and method. In those days people were not as careful about the amounts of sugar or fats they consumed. The original recipe called for 1 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. This would be considered too much by today's standards.

1 cup shortening
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    ¼ cup water
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 large egg
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup oat bran
    1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
    1/2 cup flax meal
    1/4 cup sesame seeds
    1 cup dried cranberries
    1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
1.      Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.      Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature
3.      In a large bowl, mix in the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, oats, oat bran, flax meal, nuts and seeds, and dried fruit.
4.      Rub in the shortening with your hands until the mixture resembles a coarse meal
5.      Beat together the egg and vanilla extract. Add this to dry ingredients along with the sugar water. Mix until a dough forms.
6.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
7.      Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball of dough slightly. These cookies do not spread much.
8.      Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool them on the baking sheets for 15 minutes or so. Decrease oven temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit then put the cookies back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.