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Frosted Banana-Oat Bars

Last evening I logged on to my blog and was gobsmacked to discover that my post had been listed on the Best of Holidailies!  You cannot imagine how thrilled this neophyte blogger was at the news (made the H.H. read the whole thing–he liked the pic of Elsie’s paw especially) and also how surprised.  So thank you, panel of Holidailies readers, and thank you, everyone who dropped by to read the post (I thought I was hallucinating when I saw the blog stats yesterday). 

Oh, no.  But now the pressure’s on.  I will feel compelled to write a witty, irreverent entry every day.  Or will I end up like Alanis Morisette, and only disappoint after the first big debut?  Only the rest of December will tell.  I’m just glad that today is recipe day–simple and straightforward.  So here goes.

This past Saturday evening, my friend Deb, flush from a recent trip overseas, dropped by and became our first  guest in the new place.  For the occasion (okay, and also because I knew I’d committed to writing about a dessert here), I played a bit with an ancient recipe I had for Banana Bars.

oatbanbar1.jpg

The original bars called for sugar, eggs, butter, and a mixture of bananas and oats.  Since I’ve overhauled virtually every aspect of this dessert by by subtracting ingredients, adding others, and substituting still others to make it NAG-friendly, I now feel that this is my own recipe, which I’ll post here.  I did use the Maple Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, though, so the credit for that goes to Isa and Terry (ain’t it cool how bloggers can be on a first-name basis like this with complete strangers??).

In my head, the bars were chewy, gooey, and the rich banana flavor was beautifully complemented by the subtle maple of the frosting.  All that was true in the finished product, except for the gooey part; these were more moist and chewy, like what a soft granola bar is supposed to be.  And they  definitely were complemented well by the frosting.

These are a lovely, not-too-sweet dessert and, sans frosting (okay, even with) a quick and convenient breakfast bar.  

oatbanbar2.jpg

Frosted Banana-Oat Bars

1/2 cup Sucanat or other UNrefined organic evaporated cane juice

1 Tbsp. finely ground flax seeds

1/4 c. vanilla soymilk or almond milk (we had some Vitasoy Holly Nog in the house, so I used that, and it added a delicious richness to the flavor)

1/4 cup organic sunflower or other light-tasting oil

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 very ripe, medium bananas (don’t mash them just yet)

1/3 cup raisins, optional (I used them this time, but actually think it would be better without)

1-1/2 cups whole old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT instant or quick-cook)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup oat flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. alum-free baking powder

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the Sucanat, flax, soymilk, oil, and vanilla. 

Cut the bananas into chunks and add to the bowl.  Using a potato masher or large fork, mash the bananas into the mixture, leaving a few little chunks (about the size of peas) here and there.  Stir in the raisins, if using.  Set aside while to measure the dry ingredients, or at least two minutes.

In a larger bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir well to combine.  It will seem too wet for a bar dough; this is as it should be.

Scrape the mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Bake in preheated over 40-45 minutes, until top is dry and a tester inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.  (Alternately, you may cool and frost right in the pan).

Meanwhile, prepare frosting.  When bars are completely cool, spread with frosting and chill until the frosting firms up a bit, about 30 minutes.  Cut into bars and enjoy.  Makes 16 small or 12 more acceptably-sized bars.  Frosting does not freeze well (though plain bars do).

[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]

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