Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chocolate oat bars

It's too hot to cook dinner, as I wrote in my last post, but too hot to cook dessert is another matter entirely. Here are a couple desserts I've made recently; I didn't change either so much that I could claim it as my own or justify a proper post, but together I think I have enough to talk about here.

First up, chocolate oat bars. Why I didn't use the recipe I adapted for the black sapote oat bars, I'm not sure, but instead I went out searching the web for bar cookies specifically designed to include chocolate. I found a bunch of recipes, but not a lot of variation between them. The one I settled on was unusual in that it used baking soda. That gave the crust more of a cakey texture than most recipes which I thought worked well. I did change the chocolate layer, though. Instead of using semisweet chocolate and condensed milk which would have been cloyingly sweet I think, I used 6 ounces (by weight) of good quality El Rey 70-some% cocoa dark chocolate mixed with a half cup of milk, a Tablespoon of butter and enough cinnamon sugar to take the bitter edge off and add a spicy edge back on. I also added a fair bit of allspice to the crust, but I can't say I could notice it in the final product.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour [I've been substituting white whole wheat flour into a lot of recipes recently and it's done just fine in all of them.]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats [some recipes call for quick-cooking and some call for just plain rolled. I couldn't find any differences in techniques or cooking times so you can use whatever you've got handy. The quick-cooking are broken up more, so you might run plain rolled oats through the food processor briefly.]
1/2 cup chopped pecans

plus the chocolate mixture described above.

0. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. When the sugar is fully incorporated, beat in the eggs and vanilla.

2. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in oats and nuts.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet. Stir to blend but no longer than that.

4. Grease 8x8 inch baking pan. Pour in 2/3 of the oat mixture. Spread into the corners. Pour over the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly. Dollop the rest of the oat mixture on top. [The original recipe talks about patting in mixture into the pan and sprinkling it on top. I must have done something wrong as that was quite out of the question given the texture I had. Well it worked out just fine.] Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes until puffy and browned on top. Cool before cutting into squares.

The results are quite lovely to look at and pretty tasty too. There's quite a bit more chocolate than crust, so each bite has a little bit of the brown sugar and butter flavored cakey crust (not unlike a Toll House cookie, but lighter), followed by a bite of a solid chocolate chunk and sharp cinnamon melting into a whole lot of rich creamy chocolate.

That's plenty long enough. I'll post about the chocolate banana bread pudding tomorrow.


kat said...

I like the direction you went with the chocolate, sounds much more appealing to me too

billjac said...

Both using dark chocolate and using top quality chocolate made a huge difference in the nature of the bars and elevated them from kid's snacks into something kind of sophisticated. I was just craving some pastry, but this turned quite a bit better than it needed to be.