Friday, December 30, 2011

Chocolate Candy Oat Bars (gluten free)

Before I went gluten-free, Chocolate Candy Oat Bars were my favorite cookies to make during the holidays. These are basically a crumb-type base that's baked and then spread with a sweet chocolaty filling and then topped with more crumb and candy coated chocolate pieces (aka M&M's). More than once I ended up making two batches because I would consume most of the first round, leaving none to share. Having taken a few years off from making this recipe, this year I decided to try it using gluten-free flour.
The recipe only calls for 1 1/2 cup of flour, and I had just over that amount left in my box of King Arthur Gluten Free Multipurpose Flour, so that's what I used. Ideally, I should have also used certified gluten-free oats, but I need quick-cooking oats to make this recipe, and I had a difficult time finding them. They are available on, but I didn't want to wait for an order to arrive, so I went with just regular quick-cooking oats instead. Inherently oats don't contain gluten, but cross-contamination is a concern.

For the Chocolate Candy Oat Bars:
2 cups quick cooking oats 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used the gluten-free King Arthur flour mentioned above)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
1 cup chopped pecans 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted 
1 1/2 cups candy coated chocolate pieces, divided 
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 10" by 15" jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. If you don't have a jelly roll pan, a 9" by 13" sheet pan works. You'll just have thicker cookies.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, brown sugar, chopped pecans, baking soda, and salt. Add melted butter, stir together until mixture is crumbly.
Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pecan crumb mixture. Press the rest evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
In a microwave safe bowl (I just used a glass measuring cup), microwave 1 cup of the chocolate candy pieces, on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Press candies with the back of a spoon to mash them, and then stir them into the condensed milk.
Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the prebaked crust, leaving about half an inch border on all sides. Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups of crumb mixture and the rest of the chocolate candy pieces. Sprinkle over chocolate mixture and press lightly.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars. I'm really sorry, but I totally forgot to take a picture of the cut cookies so you can see the layers and yummy goodness.
I must say that they're a lot sweeter than I remember. Maybe my taste preferences have changed since I don't try not to consume as many sweets nowadays. The gluten free flour did give these more of a grainy mouthfeel than I remember, but I don't know if you would necessarily notice unless you had a batch made with regular flour to compare them with. Overall though, I think they came out just fine.

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