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Gluten- and dairy-free, and naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and vanilla, this recipe makes a lot - share them with family and friends, or freeze for later. Enjoy!

In 11th Grade, I spent a semester at The Mountain School, a farm school in Vermont. We did chores before breakfast, hiked in the woods, and learned about sustainability. The food we ate was delicious and nourishing. However, Marilyn’s (the head cook) Fudgy Oat Squares were legendary. Twenty years later, I can still remember their ooey, gooey decadence. I’ve done my best to do them justice while making my own version that’s gluten-free and dairy-free.

Coconut fudgy oat squares

Makes 20 large squares

1 425g can full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup honey
1½ cups coconut sugar
1 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
4 eggs at room-temperature
1½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour*
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1 375g bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts and/or pecans

*The blend I use contains brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease a 15½ x 10 inch baking pan.

In a small pan over medium-high heat, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk in the honey. Simmer for 40 minutes until slightly thickened, whisking occasionally. (You’re making sweetened condensed coconut milk.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, shredded coconut, baking soda, and salt together. Pour the flour into the sugar mixture and stir to combine. Mix in the oats. Press 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan. If the mixture is too sticky, use damp fingers. The remaining l/3 of the oat mixture will be used to top the bars.

When the coconut milk and honey are finished simmering, remove from the heat and mix in the chocolate chips until fully combined. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Add the nuts and stir to combine. Spread the chocolate over the oat mixture in the pan. Drop the reserved oat mixture in small chunks onto the chocolate. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool completely before attempting to cut. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, you may want to refrigerate it for a few hours to get the fudge to set faster. Cut into squares and enjoy with childlike delight!

Meadow Linn is a chef and health and vitality coach who’s been passionate about good food since she was old enough to crawl into the cupboards. She is the founder of The Mystic Chef® training and the co-author of The Mystic Cookbook. www.MeadowLinn.com

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