Today’s post is going to be a bit long, so bear with me.
A while back, my oven met with a tragedy… I had preheated the oven and was rolling out dog biscuits when I noticed a strange glow emanating from the oven door. At first, I thought I had left on the oven light, but a quick check verified that I had not. Shrugging it off, I figured that the element was probably very glow-y today and resumed rolling and cutting. It wasn’t until I went to put the biscuits in the oven when I saw what was truly happening. The element had caught itself on fire. It was horrifying, absolutely horrifying. The white flame was several inches high and traveling along the element to the back of the oven. There was a great deal of panicking, and we finally put out the fire by smothering it in baking soda and turning off the power.
So, after all of that drama we were left with an oven that we thought was completely ruined. The lack of a functioning oven put a huge damper on our cooking; many recipes had to be left by the wayside, and all baking ceased. Several weeks later I discovered that the microwave was suitable for things like brownies and biscuits, but it still couldn’t achieve the same in flavour or texture. Our friends were nice enough to let us borrow their oven from time to time; so, we would often go to their house and have baking parties, eat too much of what we made, and crash on the couch to play video games. It was a great deal of fun, and I guess it did make up for the traumatic oven experience!
To keep things short, we found out that the oven wasn’t entirely broken. All that needed to be replaced was the faulty element. Well, today that was replaced and I am elated. I can bake yet again! In honor, I decided to bake a dessert bar that I have been calling “Something Delicious.”
“Something Delicious” is a recipe I threw together about three or four weeks ago out of sheer boredom. I start with a base of pureed chickpeas (yes, I like to bake with legumes and have developed quite a few recipes) and add in maple syrup, yoghurt, brown butter, oats, and all sorts of other goodness. I spread that out into a square baking dish, top with a generous sprinkling of turbinado and maple sugar, and bake for a mere 10 minutes. The result it a dense, lightly sweetened bar with maple accents and beautifully sparkling top. If you are not familiar with brown butter, I go into a bit more detail below.
Let’s talk about brown butter. Brown butter is the process of taking an ordinary stick of butter (or in this case, only a tablespoon) and melting it in a pot until it sizzles, crackles, and finally browns. It imparts the loveliest rich, nutty, and dark flavour to anything it gets added to. I first discovered the art of browning butter from Joy the Baker when I made her Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (which, by the way, were delicious). While brown butter isn’t for everything, it’s sure meant for a lot of things–chewy cookies, dense cakes, blondies…
Okay, enough about why brown butter is so amazing; let’s talk about how to make this stuff.
Place your butter in a silver-bottomed sauce pan; I like to use stainless steel (the reason for this is so you can see how brown your butter is getting). Turn to medium heat and allow your butter to melt without stirring. Once your butter has completely melted it may start to foam, froth, sputter, crackle, and/or pop. This is normal. Just sit by and watch, swirling the pan occasionally.
Once the sputtering, crackling, and/or popping subsides keep a very close eye on it. The fat solids will begin to brown once the water has cooked out (that’s what all the s, c, and/or p was from). They do so quickly, so definitely do not multi-task at this point. Allow the butter brown until it smells rich and nutty, and the fat solids have developed a chestnut hue.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour the brown butter into a heat-safe dish. Be sure to scrape out all of the dark fat solids–that’s where all of the super nutty goodness is. Allow to cool to room temperature before using as directed.
Maple Oat Bars
If you can, I would recommend using grade B maple syrup, for its more intense maple-y flavour. Maple sugar is rather pricey, so you can skip it as a topping; but if you can, it really makes these bars delicious.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, browned (see above)*
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/3 cup plain yoghurt**
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
1 teaspoon all-natural maple flavoring***
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup whole grain oats, rolled or instant
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon maple sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F and adjust rack to the center of the oven. Lightly grease a 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, grind the chickpeas until smooth and scrape down the sides of the bowl. While the processor is running, pour in your soy milk and scrape down the sides again. Add in the yoghurt, maple syrup, cane sugar, maple flavoring, and salt and process until combined. Add in the browned butter and process once more.
In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, and baking powder. Pour in the chickpea mixture and stir until combined. Dump into the greased baking dish, and smooth out with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with the turbinado and maple sugar.
Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
*Vegan substitute: skip the browning and use melted vegan margarine (I would recommend Earth Balance, because I hear that it has the most buttery flavour).
**Vegan substitute: use unsweetened soy yoghurt.
***Whatever you do, use natural maple flavoring. We want these bars to have a pure, maple flavor; not a pancake syrup flavor. I like Frontier Co-op’s maple flavoring.