Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Anna's Chocolate Oat Bars: The Downton Abbey kind!

Oat Bars Pre-Oven

 The finished product!

Do you watch Downton Abbey? I found out about this fun, period soap opera quite recently and I am positively smitten! Is it because of the intricate relationships among the Lords, Ladies, and the servants that live and work in this beautiful estate?  Is it because of the pretty costumes? Or the fact that I took a fan quiz that told me that I'm just like Anna? The answer is all of the above, (especially that last reason because I heart Joanne Frogatt and her sweet as pie, yet tough as nails when in comes to doing the right thing character)!

Now, based on a little research I did, the servants at Downton would most likely have had some sort of porridge in the morning for breakfast, and what can be found in porridge? Why, oats of course. This brings me to this yummy dessert, inspired by the Wicked Noodle recipe for Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars:

Now, I opted out of the caramel because I tried to vegan-ize this recipe and all the caramel recipes I found involved cream of some sort. I made these bars for my lovely friend, Sara, who's cutting out dairy as well as gluten from her diet. I did my best to follow the vegan/gluten-free guidelines, so here's to hoping the outcome is still as good. Instead of the caramel sauce, I substituted 1/2 a bar of high-quality dark chocolate. If you want the non-vegan version, click the link above. For this adjusted one, (one that I'm sure sweet Anna would have gone out of her way to make for Mr. Bates if he chose to go vegan/gluten-free), look no further!

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 and 1/4 cup vegan margarine, (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup brown sugar, sadly I couldn't find a substitute for this
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups oats
  • Oat flour/Gluten-Free Flour substitute: we'll get to this later
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 oz 70% dark chocolate

(1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

(2) Cream the margarine and sugar together in a large bowl. The good news is that if you get a small container of Earth Balance, it already comes whipped, so stirring with a fork isn't as tough, (yes I'm still electric-mixer-less).

(2) Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. This is what I did: I took a couple cups of oats, put it into my roommate's food processor, and pushed the pulse button. This gave me enough oat flour to substitute into the recipe. The only catch is that this will definitely kick up the oat flavor of the entire recipe. If you're not into all those oats, I've heard of people using quinoa flour, too but please definitely look it up other options before hand! I'm no expert!

(3) Add the 2 cups of oats and stir well. Coat a 9-inch square pan with your margarine and press half of the oat mixture onto it. Bake for 10 minutes.

(4) Remove from oven add chocolate chips. Break the dark chocolate into smaller pieces and scatter evenly on top of the first oat layer. Scatter the rest of the oat mixture on top of the chocolate. Bake for 15 minutes.

(5) Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into small squares and enjoy! 

  • NOTE: If you opt for this version of the recipe, I noticed the squares will be a lot softer, so be careful when serving to avoid a sticky, chocolate mess!

Oh, and please give this show a chance. It's worth it, (Dame Maggie Smith's in bad could it be)?

The official PBS Masterpiece website

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