Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Baking Soothes My Soul: Oat Fudge Bar Recipe | gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free

From the time I was in grade 5 right through my high school years you could almost always find me baking cookies on a Friday afternoon.  I rarely ate them, but I loved making them.  Baking is cathartic for me, I think the creativity clears me both emotionally and physically.  After my last few weeks taking care of a sick family, the urge to bake was strong.

In fact I even made oatmeal raisin cookies using whole wheat flour when I was visiting at my mom's house. Since I couldn't enjoy them, I still felt the need to bake something delicious.  And since I'm so tired, exhausted and craving chocolate, I opted to bake some ooey gooey gluten-free goodness.

These oat fudge bars are an adaptation from one of my favourite cookie and bars cookbooks and are in no way healthy, unless of course you count the fact that they contain oats.  They take a little bit of time to make because you have to make your own dairy-free sweetened condensed milk but its totally worth the effort; if your family tolerates dairy, feel free to substitute a can and speed things up.  This recipe make a huge 9x13 pan and I suspect that you could easily halve the recipe and bake it in an 8x8 pan.  Personally, I've just been eating a bit every time I walk by the pan and they don't seem to be getting stale any faster than I can eat them.

Be forewarned, these bars are delicious, addictive and not-so-good for you.  I hope you like them as much as I do.
Oat Fudge Bars

Oat Fudge Bars
(gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)
Adapted from 500 best Cookies, Bars & Squares by Esther Brody 

 BASE Ingredients:
  • 3 cups gluten-free oats (quick cooking if you can find them)
  • 2.5 cups gluten-free flour mix*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 cup shortening + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
TOPPING Ingredients:
  • 3 cups rice milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  1. Mix rice milk and sugar in a medium saucepan and boil, stirring frequently until the liquid is reduced by 1/3. (You should have about 2 cups after reduction).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9x13 pan.
  3. While the milk is reducing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, gluten-free flour mix, baking soda, salt and xantham gum.  Set aside. 
  4. In a separate bowl beat the shortening, water and brown sugar until smooth and creamy.  
  5. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until well incorporated.  
  6. Stir in the vanilla.
  7. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  8. Press 2/3 of the oat mix into the prepared pan.
  9. Once your milk has reduced (it will be thin), scoop approximately 1/4 cup into a small bowl.  Add the cornstarch, blending well before mixing back into the hot milk. 
  10. Try and allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the chocolate chips, shortening and salt.  Stir until smooth then mix in the vanilla.  (You can warm the mixture over low heat if your milk isn't already hot.)
  11. Pour chocolate over the prepared base.
  12. Crumble reserved base over the chocolate layer.
  13. Bake 35-45minutes until the edges are golden and the centre appears nearly set.
  14. Cool pan completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.
  15. Enjoy.  

Gluten-Free Flour Mix
(adapted from Living Without's 'Mary's All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend')

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1-1/3 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Store in a sealed container or mix right into a large Ziploc bag and use as needed for gluten-free baking.
yield: 7 cups