Because things keep working against me on getting a year-end, new year kick-off post up, I’m bringing home a recipe from a guest post that I did over at The Daily Dietribe for Iris a few years back—Oatmeal Marble Squares.
I tend to use oatmeal more in the cooler months. There are oatmeal breakfast dishes like Oatmeal Brulee and simple pleasures like Flourless Oatmeal Cookies. Occasionally, there are even more indulgent treats like Magic Oat Bars. Of course, oatmeal provides more nutrition, and “sticks to your ribs”—as grandma used to say—for when the body needs more fuel to face the harshness of cold weather. And I love baking once the heat of the oven becomes a plus factor!
The following recipe, Oatmeal Marble Squares, is another crowd pleaser that uses oats. I’m sharing two versions. The first is one that was simply adapted to be gluten free, substituting gluten free flour for all-purpose (gluten) flour. The second has been adapted further—alternative ingredients are shown in parens—so that it’s not too unhealthy. (Yes, sometimes, that is the goal!) Both versions offer chewiness and gooeyness. Admittedly, the first version is far more chewy and gooey, but I like the healthier, second version just as much. I don’t feel like I need to eat the whole pan with the latter version … the same can’t be said for the first version.
Mr. GFE’s former boss, Robert, would do flips over the original version of this recipe. (Because he was hubby’s former boss, he’s never tried the new, healthier version.) We had all gone to a concert together and I’d made these squares for our tailgate party. Robert ended up eating most of them. He did so quite unabashedly, too. He raved over them so much that I sent the few that were left home with him. After that, if Mr. GFE had a work function that included food, I’d make these treats for him to take in … every time. I even sent in some out of the blue on occasion. The fact that Mr. GFE was going to be requesting vacation leave on the spur of the moment a few days later (to better work with my own schedule) had absolutely nothing to do with my kindness. Seriously. It was pure coincidence. Uh huh … Yes, these are bribe-worthy treats, even covert bribing, if you will.
- ¾ cup gluten-free flour mix
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter, softened (dairy or non-dairy; or substitute ¼ cup coconut oil plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (or substitute ⅔ cup coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar for both granulated sugar and brown sugar)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup uncooked oats (certified gluten-free purity protocol; regular or quick)
- ½ cup chopped nuts (or seeds, like sunflower)
- 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (dairy or non-dairy)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, sugars, and vanilla extract. Beat until creamy.
- Mix in egg.
- Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
- Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and nuts.
- Spread into a greased 13 x 9 x 3 inch glass baking pan using spatula. (Healthier version does not spread as well, so use an 8 x 8 square pan if using alternative ingredients.) Mixture will not be very thick at all.
- Bake 5 minutes, then remove from oven and slightly drag the back of a spoon over the surface in a swirl design to create a marble effect.
- Return to oven and bake about 10 minutes longer. Total baking time should be about 15 minutes. Test if these bars are done by using a toothpick.
- Let cool and cut into small squares.
Marbling: While it’s fun to hold true to the name and produce the marble effect using a spoon, sometimes I just skip that part. The taste is just as delicious, although the appearance may not be quite as novel.
Oats: If you are gluten free for medical reasons, it's imperative that you eat oats that are certified gluten free purity protocol oats. (You can see a listing of purity protocol brands on Gluten-Free Watchdog.) Sometimes I use the oats “as is”; sometimes I run them through the food processor or my mini-chopper to make them more like quick oats. Quick oats do bind a bit better with the other ingredients to make a more solid square, and are slightly less chewy.
Flour: I have used all types of combinations for the small amount of gluten-free flour required in this recipe. I’ve used my standby Two-Ingredient Gluten-Free Flour Mix, but I’ve also used a mix of white rice flour, brown rice flour, and cornstarch. However, my favorite recent combination includes ¼ cup of almond flour.
Fat: In my opinion, coconut oil is not as flavorful in baking as one would expect; that's why I also used some extra virgin olive oil in the second version. Coconut oil is usually substituted one for one for the amount of butter, but a lesser amount of olive oil is usually substituted for butter. I love using olive oil to make recipes dairy free (like in my Perfect Pound Cake and Mediterranean Chocolate Cake). In addition to giving one a quick alternative to dairy, it also provides both amazing flavor and moistness.
Gum: Finally, no xanthan gum is required for this recipe.