Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Delicious Oat Bars with Dates, Walnuts and Applesauce


  • 1 cup finely ground old-fashioned rolled oats (1 and 1/4 c. oats = 1 c. ground)
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (or 1 1/2 stick butter and no applesauce)
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cups walnuts (5 1/2 ounces), toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup dates (5 ounces), pitted and chopped
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together ground oats, flour, 1 cup whole oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl; set aside.

2. Put brown sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in applesauce, eggs and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

3. Reduce speed to low. Add oat mixture, and mix until just combined. Mix in walnuts and dates.

4. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread batter evenly in dish. Scatter remaining 1/2 cup whole oats over top. Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cut into bars.

You'll thank me for this recipe!

Better NOT Let Them Eat Cake!

It's often quite an experience over here when I decide to try a new recipe I've seen in an American magazine.  Most of the time, I have to make some substitutions or even MAKE one of the ingredients (like sour cream or ricotta cheese…).  Sometimes the recipes turn out great and other times we call it a "miss".  Well, I had quite the experience the other day!

Earlier I had seen a recipe for Oat bars in an old Martha Stewart magazine of mine, and it had dates in it as well.  The first time I made it, it was just yummy!!  And one thing we can get easily here is dates.  Gary loves dates. I decided that it was time to make it again!  I had all the ingredients on hand.  Along with dates, it also called for walnuts, which I bring from the States, and a good amount of Brown Sugar (from Nigeria) and nearly a whole stick of good French Butter.  (Definitely not the healthiest bars around!).  The Oat flour and oats made up most of the "flour", but it did call for 3/4 c. of wheat flour.  No problem.  I got out of my freezer, a new 1 kg. sack of flour that I bought from my local "grocer", opened it and measured it out into the ingredients.  Towards the end, I measured out 1 c. of my precious walnuts, toasted them and tossed them in the batter.  Into the oven it went…

Later when I took it out, I just couldn't resist cutting a small corner out to taste it and see how it had turned out.  Delicious!  Really!  As I went about my work though, I kept feeling a gritty taste left in my mouth.  And it just wouldn't go away.  So I began to wonder… I asked Gary to try a piece and see if he agreed about the grittiness.  He did.  We began to think through the ingredients…dates, walnuts, oats…none of which were gritty.  I grabbed my flour container and tasted it.  Oh My!  Not only was it gritty but it was also bitter.  Gary tasted it.  We couldn't believe it…it appeared to be the powder for Painter's Putty!…what we call "mastique" here.  We couldn't be sure, but we realized that whatever it was, it was Not flour…and therefore we couldn't take a chance and eat the bars!  

How disappointing!  The next morning I showed it to our helper, Abdou, and he took the powder back to the shack where he bought it and the owner agreed that it wasn't flour….but it really wasn't his fault because it had come to him in his order from the city. So the 3 bags I had bought were useless….unless we decide to patch our walls before we paint again! 
So as not to endanger anyone's health, Abdou cut the cake up in pieces and threw it down an outdoor latrine.  It killed me to see all my ingredients be thrown away!

A few days later I asked Abdou to go and buy me another kilo of flour and he asked if he should find another shack to buy from.  I told him "no" because it wouldn't likely be a problem again.  So he came home with the flour and later that evening I began to make the Oat Bars AGAIN.  I started to sift the flour (we always sift the flour here because there are often weevils in the flour).  Lo and behold, I began to see lots of brown "residue" left in the sifter….it looked like sawdust!  As I looked closer, I saw that it was probably chaff from the wheat…and there was a whole lot of chaff!  I just couldn't believe this!  Out of that kilo sack, I had nearly a cup of chaff sifted out.  When I showed it to Gary, he just said, "We need to buy flour in Niamey", and we will, but…I'm not sure that it won't happen there either.  

Anyway the Bars turned out so delicious and we're certainly enjoying them!