Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rainy Day Sunshine, Oat Date Crumb Bars

It is rainy season in Costa Rica. I love the rain, it brings such freshness and cool air to much needed humid Montezuma, but it can really get you if you are stuck home with no vehicle, no dry cloths, no fancy entertainment center and you just can't go dance in the rain because you are pregnant:) Not you, me:)

But then, there is baking, it definitely helps! Both in the pregnancy department and sanity of the mind. These are easy to make oat bars that will make your kitchen smell like a cozy bakery and long for a nice movie with a warm blanket, a cup of tea in your hand, even in the tropics. Also, individually wrapped they make great gifts. It reminds me of a linzer torte, I could swear it tastes very buttery, though these are vegan and gluten-free! Roberto thinks it is a close relative of fig newtons...

The recipe comes from Candle Cafe Cookbook. It is a vegan restaurant/cafe, I have never been to but heard so much of it. Here is the exact recipe from the book. Below is my version with a few changes:

Oat Bars with Apricot Date Filling

1 cup whole pitted dates
1/2 cup dried apricots (or prunes or raisins)
3 cups oat flour, see below for a quick recipe
1 cup coconut flour (if you don't have it, add oat flour instead)
4 cups rolled oats
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup agave (or maple syrup)
1 tsp. almond extract
 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom, if you really like cardamom, you add a pinch more.
1/8 tsp nutmeg
zest of 1 orange

Fresh spices will be more powerful and fragrant. I like to grind up  cardamom and grate the nutmeg. If you haven't tried it before, I highly recommend it.

Oat Flour-Coconut Flour
You don't need to buy oat flour, just blend rolled oats in a blender until super-fine. You can also do coconut flour or any other nut flour the same way. Just make sure your blender is super dry.

Date-Apricot Filling
For the filling soak the dates and apricots in water, better the night before. If you want to bake your bars now, you can also soak them in hot, boiling water while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Once they are ready, drain, and process in a blender or a food processor until smooth. This is your sugar-free filling that is sweet and delicious! You can also use your favorite marmalade, I really want to try this with raspberry. 

Oat Coconut Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, rolled oats, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, orange zest and walnuts and mix together well. 

In another bowl, combine coconut oil, agave, almond extract, and sea salt. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix well. Press half of the mixture into a baking pan. 

Spread the fruit filling over the mixture, top with the remaining half of the flour mixture, and press down lightly.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let cool and cut into squares.

Great for breakfast, road snack, dessert for lunch...Even this monkey enjoyed the smell in our garden:)

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