Friday, 29 January 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I seem to be spending a lot of my spare time (and I seem to have had a lot this winter) looking at other cooking blogs; jumping from one to another to find blogs which resonate with my style of cooking - or my ambitions! When I find a photo like this, then I look very closely at the recipe. Caitlin, the Engineer Baker, uses her engineering skills to good effect in both photography and baking, and her blog is a joy to look at. A really superb photo will easily sell a recipe to me; in fact I no longer like cook books unless the recipes are all photographed. Very shallow of me, but a picture speaks a thousand words, they say!

The recipe lived up to its promise. All the things I like in a tray cookie were there - chocolate in abundance, oats, peanuts, cinnamon, condensed milk. (Just don't think about the calories!). I picked up the recipe from here at Confectiona's Realm, and decided to halve it, as the Engineer Baker had done. I also 'translated' the quantities to metric weights, as cups make me quite uncomfortable.

Here are the weights of ingredients for a half batch (without the raisins), cooked in an 8" square tin lined with baking parchment:

Oat dough:
160g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
115g butter
100g light muscovado sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g rolled oats
75g salted peanuts, roughly chopped
Chocolate Filling:
1/2 tin condensed milk - 200g
175g plain chocolate chips
25g butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g salted peanuts - roughly chopped

The recipe was easy to follow, and I didn't encounter any problems with making or cooking the recipe. With hindsight, I should have spent more time and care sprinkling smaller blobs of the reserved oat dough over the chocolate filling, to give better coverage with the top layer; I expected it to spread a bit more than it did during cooking.

When it came to cutting the refrigerated cake into squares, I found the cooked oat layers to be quite crumbly, so I didn't get the really neat squares I was expecting. When I checked a similar recipe which I use for something called an Oaty Toffee Bar, I found that it used more butter in the oat dough, so that might rectify the problem in future. Or it might have been that my 'translations' to weights were innacurate enough to produce a drier dough!

I cut the traybake into 16 pieces. As with other bakes this size, it seemed a realistic estimate of the amount anyone would want to eat - however, my son ate two pieces, one straight after the other! I tried a piece from one bar cold, straight from the fridge and found the flavours very muted - neither as sweet nor as salty as I expected. The flavour improved when they warmed up to room temperature, and the chocolate fudge filling softened, but was still vaguely dissatisfying - for all the promises of the extravagent ingredients, the end result was fairly plain
and ordinary.


Alicia Foodycat said...

Very interesting - I would have thought the salted peanuts and condensed milk would make it sweet and salty and addictive!

Suelle said...

Foodycat - that's what I expected, but I think the salt and sugar neutralised each other.

Jude said...

This product contains nuts!

Looks fab. I may have to try this at half term. How easy is chopping peanuts? Don't they end up all around the kitchen?

Suelle said...

Hi Jude. Nuts are pesky little critters to chop!LOL! I used a mezzaluna, and chopped the nuts in two smaller batches, but a few brief pulses in a food processor might be less messy.

Anonymous said...

They look great, at least! Shame the taste didn't quite meet up to the appearance! My family won't eat anything with condensed milk though (unless it's homemade Irish cream :)).


Choclette said...

Suelle, it certainly sounds as though they should have been good. I often find the things I'm really looking forward to baking turn out to be disappointing - perhaps it's a case of heightened expectations? I think I might try this recipe someday - just to make sure!

Suelle said...

You could be right about my expectations being too high, Choclette. The thought of condensed milk and salted nuts certainly lead me to expect something which stimulated my taste buds more.