Posted on | August 12, 2010 | 5 Comments
When I woke up this morning, I was in the mood for two things: chocolate and magic. I know I’m not the only person who eats when stressed. I think most people do. Had a bad day at work? Well, just grab a bag .of potato chips! A tiff between lovers? No need to fret. Just make sure to have that Ben & Jerry’s at hand. We go for the easy fix, whatever’s right in front of us (God forbid we have to get up and actually peruse through the pantry closet). But today, though I wasn’t making the healthiest snack, I found that the process of actually making that snack can be the best part.
This dire need for chocolate and a bit magic was the perfect chance for me to try making the Magic Oat Bars from one of my favorite blogs, Gluten Free Easily. Shirley Braden, the writer of Gluten Free Easily, doesn’t only write about food and recipes. Her blog spreads the word about Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance so that nobody has to go on being ill when there’s a solution. She shares information on symptoms, her support group and also puts together some amazing recipes. When it comes to being gluten free, her motto is that it should be easy. The world doesn’t end when we’re diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Like many of the bloggers I’ve written about this summer, she proves that being diagnosed is the entry to a world of new tastes. Though there are certainly challenges, cross-contamination and those recipes that go horribly wrong, there are triumphs and great foods that make it all worth while. Shirley is all about showing her readers that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we originally thought it would be.
When I came upon the Magic Oat Bars, I knew they would be the perfect snack when shut up in the school dorms, loaded with homework and in need of a break. And just as Shirley claims, they’re definitely easy to make. The ingredients Shirley uses for the Magic Oat Bars are:
1 ½ cups rolled oats
½ cup butter, melted
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (your choice)
I decided on cashews as my nut of choice as I’ve been craving them lately. I put cashews in anything I possibly can.
I also skipped out on the coconut. I actually like coconut, but I wasn’t much in the mood for it today. And I wanted my mom, who doesn’t like coconut, to enjoy the Magic Oat Bars as well.
As for the rolled oats, I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats. Most of the gluten free flours I use are Bob’s Red Mill products, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong using this brand. They’re really tasty.
So, the first thing you want to do is put your butter in a small bowl and melt it in the microwave. Then add your oats to the butter and mix well. You’ll want to eat it just like this. At least, I know I did. I admit, I did steal a few pieces. How could I not? It looks so good.
Now find a serving dish about 13×9 inches. Mine was actually a little smaller than that, but you don’t want it to be too big or the layers will be thinner. When you find your serving dish, put the mixture in as your first layer. It’ll seem loose, but that’s okay. Press it down into the bowl once you get it evened out.
Your next layer will be the sweetened condensed milk. I just opened the can and poured it all over the butter and oats. Try to do this evenly.
After that is when the magic comes in: chocolate chips. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the entire thing, again, trying to make it even. You might want to use more or less than two cups, so add them at your leisure, until you think it looks chocolatey enough. It’ll look something like this:
Yeah, it’s a lot of chocolate. Now, you’re almost done.
Since I chose cashews, I decided to bake them a bit before chopping them up and adding them to the batch. I put my oven on at 350 degrees, which is also what we’ll be baking the oat bars at later. Once heated, I stuck the cashews in for about seven minutes. I wanted to give them a head start since they were raw nuts. It also makes them a bit easier to chop. Your whole kitchen will smell like cashews too, which never hurt anybody. So chop up your nuts and sprinkle them on top of the whole thing.
Now you’re ready to pop it in the oven. It’ll take about twenty-five minutes to bake. Check on it from time to time. It will start browning on top.
When it’s finished cooking, let it cool down before cutting it up and serving. Here’s the final product:
See that giant layer of chocolate in the middle? It’s what makes these oat bars so magical. I cut it up, and ended up eating it more like a brownie because it was pretty soft. That first mouthful of cashews, chocolate and oats is so perfect. I couldn’t believe how much chocolate there was! And it smells so good. You can catch the scents of both the chocolate and the cashews, which is such a good combination. Like Shirley says, this isn’t a healthy snack in the least, but when you need that fix of sweetness during times of stress, this is a great way to get that. It’s easy and fun to make. I can imagine myself making this for my children one day. But, for now, these oat bars will be put to good use in the college setting. In a few weeks, I’ll be back to staying up late, writing papers and feeling generally stressed. I’m definitely going to need a chocolate fix.
I want to thank Shirley of Gluten Free Easily for this great recipe and for allowing me to use it here. If you haven’t already, please look at her blog! She has so much good information and recipes galore. And the next time you’re stressed, remember to make her Magic Oat Bars.