Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gluten-Free Fall Specials: Oatmeal Marble Squares from Gluten Free Easily

Do you recall the bake sales you had in elementary school? I remember that the older kids would bring in baked goods, and at recess, we got to go down and buy a treat with our quarters. I always bypassed the requisite jello and went straight for the oatmeal squares. There was something about the dense and chewy texture that satisfied me more than the other desserts. As an adult, oatmeal squares are still a favorite treat, but one I have to admit, I haven't had in years. Enter Shirley. I already tried her Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies, and decided it was my favorite recipe. Now it's time to try her Oatmeal Marble Squares. I have no doubt they'll take me right back to second grade, paying my twenty five cents for a delicious treat. And because the recipe comes from Shirley, it couldn't be easier. It's Gluten Free Easily!

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, 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 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.

 Oatmeal Marble Squares—Version #1

3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (dairy or non-dairy)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup uncooked oats (gluten-free; regular or quick---see notes)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or seeds, like sunflower)
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (dairy or non-dairy)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugars, and vanilla extract. Beat until creamy.
  3. Mix in egg.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
  5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  6. Spread into a greased 13 x 9 x 3 glass baking pan using spatula. 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. 
  7. Return to oven and bake about 10 minutes longer. Total baking time should be about 15 minutes. Test if it's done by using a toothpick.
  8. Let cool and cut into small squares.

Oatmeal Marble Squares—Version #2 (healthier version;
also dairy free and refined sugar free

3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (see notes)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup coconut (or palm) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup uncooked oats (gluten-free; regular or quick---see notes)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or seeds, like sunflower)
1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (dairy or non-dairy)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat until creamy. 
  3. Mix in egg.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
  5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  6. Spread into a greased 8 x 8 glass baking pan. (Note the change in size of baking pan from previous version. This version does not spread as well due to the oil instead of butter; therefore, a smaller pan is used, which results in thicker squares.) 
  7. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and slightly drag the back of a spoon over the surface in a swirl design to create a marble effect. 
  8. Return to oven and bake about 13 minutes longer. Total baking time should about 20 minutes. Test if it's done using a toothpick.
  9. Let cool and cut into squares.

Both recipes adapted from an older Nestle’s Toll House Cookbook

Shirley’s Notes: 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. I use Gifts of Nature Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, which are certified gluten free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) to less than 10 ppm. (You can read more about gluten-free oats here. If you are gluten free, it's imperative that you eat oats that are certified gluten free.) 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. I have used all types of combinations for the small amount of gluten-free flour required in this recipe. I’ve used my “fallback” mix of Asian white rice flour and cornstarch, 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. In regard to the "fat" in the recipe, 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. Here's a helpful chart for substituting olive oil for butter. Finally, no xanthan gum is required for this recipe.

Get into some fall baking by adapting traditional recipes to meet your needs and tastes. It's actually pretty easy. Enjoy!

Not just gf, but gfe!

Shirley Braden was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in June 2003. She writes gfe—gluten free easily. She also leads the King George Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Group, which she formed in 2004. Shirley also serves on the core council of a large GIG group, as well as contributing to and editing its quarterly newsletter. Her mission is to educate all about the effects of gluten on one’s health and share her gfe approach, which focuses primarily on real food, but also includes some mainstream processed foods that are gluten free, and a few gluten-free specialty foods. She believes that the gfe approach is a simpler, healthier, and less expensive way to eat gluten free. Shirley often shares her gfe approach in public forums like health fairs and community events. She will be presenting at the Gluten-Free Cooking Expo in Spring 2011!

Can you believe we're halfway through September? And halfway through our Gluten-Free Fall Specials! Five down, six to go! A special thanks to Shirley for sharing her gluten-free wisdom with us! And on Thursday, Valerie of City|Life|Eats will be sharing some of her ideas as well. She's been posting a great "lunchbox" series this week to give her readers ideas for packing a healthy lunch, so I'm excited to see what she'll be sharing with us here!


Alea said...

These look incredible! I will be making these for my kids this week!

Sophie said...

These Gf marlbled bars look fenomenal & ooh so tasty too!

MMMMMMM,...lovely & fab food!

Maggie said...

Oooh, I love oat bars too. Starbucks makes one that I really want to try to make gluten-free and a lot healthier! Thanks for sharing the lovely Shirley with us Iris!

Kim-Cook it Allergy Free said...

These, as expected, look fabulous! I love oatmeal squares. I actually think both versions sound perfect! I, too, run my Gift of Nature oats through the food processor for a quick pulse, just to make them absorb the other ingredients a little better!
Thank you Iris for sharing Miss GFE with us today! ;)
And Thank you Shirley for sharing your delicious recipes with us!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Omg these look soooo good. I'm all about the healthier version anyway!

Aubree Cherie said...

Oh yum... These looks ooey gooey and glorious! Thanks for the dairy and refined sugar free version! Fabulous :)

~Aubree Cherie

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Thanks so much for all your kind words, everyone! Special thanks to you, Iris, for allowing me to guest post! I loved that you chose the wonderful oatmeal squares at the bake sales. :-) Thanks for mentioning the Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies, too. I think they might just be in my baking plan for Sunday since Mr. GFE will be back home. Fancy pants cooking on a yacht can't compare to my baking, right? I think not. ;-)


Ali said...

Wow Shirley, those look so good and easy (of course). I love baking with GF oats and no flour. I know my kids will enjoy these...they will be great for lunches! :)

Ali said...

oops, I missed that you do indeed use some flour. I was so impressed looking at them thinking they were "flourless"!! They still sounds great! :)

Farty Girl said...

How awesome are you - to offer TWO recipes for the post of one?! Many of us appreciate having the healthy option. Palm sugar is on my to-buy list. I've been reading about it lately and it sounds even better than agave. :)

Cheryle said...

So have you tried these with replacing the eggs with flax and hot water. I ask because I can not have eggs along with so many other things. Thanks

Zoe @ Z's Cup of Tea said...

Great recipe, Shirley! :) I haven't had oatmeal or oats in any form in ages, though I have been looking at recipes that use oats in some form just for ideas. I'll have to add your recipe to that list. And thank you, Iris, for hosting this wonderful series of great guest bloggers. :)

Chelsey said...

You know I bet it would be fantastic with your creme brûlée ice cream. Dessert to die for! I'll save the healthier version for another time ;)

jakel said...

I made them with flax tonight and they didn't turn out so well. They didn't really have anything to hold them together. My son actually used them on his ice cream. They may do well in milk-like a cereal-granola. Any tips would be helpful. The flavor was good though!

Anonymous said...

With the flax egg (1 T flax meal, 3 T hot water), The texture was crumbly. Before I put them into the oven I added some warm water to make the oats soak up some moisture. Just waiting for them to pop out of the oven! :)

Iris said...

Anonymous, I hope you enjoy them!


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