Monday, October 12, 2009

Apricot Oatmeal Bars

Ever since my lovely family sent me a care package containing two much-coveted bags of gluten-free oats, I have been going to town with them. Mostly I've been enjoying big bowls of oatmeal with cranberries, almonds, maple syrup and brown sugar; or with apricot slivers with almonds and brown sugar; or just plain brown sugar and cinnamon. But when I came across a random recipe on the internet called "Apricot Oatmeal Bars" and saw how simple the ingredients were, I decided to give them a try. I adjusted the recipe to be gluten-free and to include a few more flavors, and what I ended up with was a completely addictive pan of cookie bars whose flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar, and apricot were perfectly in sync with each other. Next time I might try sprinkling some almond slivers on top, or use some almond meal in the dough; or maybe I'll try the same basic dough recipe with different kinds of jam. Perhaps I'll try a pumpkin spice bar with pumpkin puree on top. But for now, try these - you will love them just as they are!

Apricot Oatmeal Bars

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup white rice flour
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons cranberry-apple juice
1 scant cup of apricot preserves, preferably “all-fruit”

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, making sure that there are no clumps of sugar or flour. Drizzle the canola oil and juice into the mixture and, using your hands, combine until it is evenly moistened and crumbly. Set aside 1/2 cup of the dry mixture and pat the rest of the mixture firmly into the bottom of an 8x8 pan (coated with cooking spray). Stir the apricot preserves, and if it is too stiff, microwave it for about 15 - 20 seconds to soften it. Spread the jam evenly on top of the dough mixture, and then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mixture over the top. Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes and then remove from the oven. Let cool completely before cutting so the preserves will set. Store covered in the refrigerator or freeze to enjoy anytime.

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