Monday, May 2, 2011

Outside the Jar: Jammin' Oat Squares

If you're looking for a healthy granola bar recipe, this is not the one you're looking for.  Click back to your search page now.  On the other hand, if you're looking for buttery, melt in your mouth, rich, jam and oat goodness, read on!
Jammin' Oat Squares is a very flexible recipe and a great way to use up some of those home made preserves.  I've made them with jams, jellies, fruit butters and fruit cheeses, varying the nuts and spices to complement the type of fruit, and sometimes adding chopped dried fruit.  Some of my favorite combos have been Peach Butter with Pecans and Fig and Lemon Preserves with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts.  I've even used Apple Pie Filling with chopped Cranberries and Walnuts.  The combinations are endless and you can personalize this recipe to make your own special confection.

Jammin' Oat Squares
1 cup nuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar (optional)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon spice(s) of your choice (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup preserves

Preheat the oven to 350F.  When heated, toast the chopped nuts for 5 minutes (I used walnuts this time) or until you just start to smell them.  Remove and allow to cool.  Alternatively, you can toast the nuts in the microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.  Microwave toasting is my preferred method.  Melt the butter.  Oil an 8" square baking pan then line it with parchment paper.  The parchment keeps everything from sticking, making removal of the bars and clean up way easier.  You'll be glad you did this step!

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  If you're adding any spices like nutmeg, ginger or cinnamon or chopped dried fruit, stir these in now as well.  GENERAL TIP: When adding nuts or chopped fruits to a baked good, always toss the nuts and fruits in some of the flour from the recipe before adding them to the batter.  This helps to suspend the additions during baking rather than having them float to the top or drop to the bottom of the baked good.  RECIPE SPECIFIC TIP: I often cut out the granulated sugar completely in this recipe.  The flavor comes from the brown sugar and is plenty sweet just with the preserve.  Consider the granulated sugar optional.

Add the melted butter and stir until completely combined.

Then press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan.

Next, spoon the preserve of your choice (I used Rosemary Rhubarb Jam) on top of the oat mixture and spread into a layer.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the oat mixture over the top of the preserve layer

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes and until golden.  Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting, about 3 hours.  Letting the pan become absolutely cool allows the preserve to firm up again and helps hold the shape of the squares when cut.  I set the pan on a rack to allow air to circulate around it.  It speeds up the cooling time a little.

Cut into squares and serve.  These buttery squares are decadent enough to serve as a dessert.  Top them with a little creme fraiche or a scoop of ice cream.  Thick Greek yogurt is good too and helps to promote that illusion of "healthy".  Nibble along with a cup of coffee for a mid-afternoon break.  Maybe the best time of day to eat them is breakfast so you have all day long to run them off!  Justify them however you must but definitely make them.  They are just that good!

1 comment:

  1. This recipe looks like a perfect match for the bars I get from a local bakery. I love the ones they make with homemade lemon curd - delish. They also us a combination of nuts using pecans & sliced almond for sure, there might be more in the mix as well. If these are similar I will say this is a deadly recipe to have and the comment I made to the bakery is this, "whoever said nothing tastes as good as thin feels has ever had these bars.