Apple/Peach Streusel Oat Squares

For some reason I’ve never had real success with jam squares. I’m not sure why that is – they don’t seem particularly challenging: Take a straightforward oat mixture, spread and flatten in a pan, add a layer of jam or preserves and a 2nd layer of oat base mixture.  Maybe add a crumble topping. I love my crumble toppings. And yet I have never been able to strike the right balance between the crumbly oat mixture (not sweet enough) and the sweet center filling (often too sweet).

Until now. In perusing my new favorite blog, which I initially arrived at in searching for green juice/smoothie recipes (which Angela affectionately calls “Green Monsters”), I came across this recipe. I had most of the ingredients, including some apples that had passed their prime and a huge bag of oats in the pantry, so it was perfect timing.

I made a few omissions and revisions out of necessity and sometimes whim. Because I was using some sweeter fruits (a Fuji apple which was on the verge, a Granny Smith  that was getting close to the verge, and a peach), I cut a little sugar in the apple/peach mixture (original recipe calls for 3 Granny Smiths). I didn’t have ground ginger so I omitted that. I didn’t have vanilla so I used a natural vanilla sweetener—just a couple drops because it was extremely potent. Nor did I have maple syrup, so I used the rest of my agave. I love oat crumble so I added a healthy dose of oats to the crumble and loved the texture it gave it.

This was a first for me—baking with an egg replacement. Gel eggs can be created using flax or chia seeds (or a combo of both) and some recipes call for you to grind the seeds and let the mixture thicken in the fridge. I did neither and my chia egg turned out fine (need to make note of this the next time I want to bake and don’t have eggs). This recipe would be dairy-free if I’d used the Earth Balance like the recipe called, but I couldn’t resist using real butter.

The result: Perfectly crumbly, chewy bars with a moist filling. Perfect for fall (or late summer). I may or may not have eaten 3 pieces straight out of the oven.

I just love 1st time recipes that turn out well and use up stuff in the fridge!

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The finished product. Serve while still warm a la mode…

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…or on their own, bite-sized.

Buttery Apple/Peach Streusel Oat Squares (adapted from OhSheGlows.com)

For Oat Base:
1.5 cups regular oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup Sucanat sugar (or brown sugar)
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds+ 4 tbsp warm water, mixed well and set aside for 5 mins)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1/4 cup agave syrup (originally called for pure maple syrup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (replaced with a  couple drops of natural vanilla sweetener)
2 tbsp almond milk

For Fruit Mixture:
2 apples, 1 peach (or any combo of apples, peaches, nectarines)
2 Tbsp Earth Balance or butter
1 Tbsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1 Tbsp Sucanat (or brown sugar)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch of vanilla sea salt (from Chelsea Filling Station in NYC.  Did I mention that I love that place?)

For Apple Streusel Topping:
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a square pan (I used a 9×9) with parchment paper and oil the sides of the pan and base. In a medium sized pot, add the fruit mixture ingredients (chopped apples, butter, agave/maple syrup, spices). Heat over low, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until the fruit softens and mixture thickens up.
  2. In a small dish/bowl, mix the chia or flax egg and set aside (or in the fridge). In a large bowl, mix the oat base dry ingredients: oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, mix the melted earth balance, maple syrup (or agave), almond milk, vanilla, and chia egg. Stir well.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well.
  5. Set aside 1/2 cup of the oat base mixture.
  6. Pour the oat mixture onto the square pan and press down with fingers. Use a pastry roller to smooth out if desired. Pour on cooked apple mixture and smooth out.
  7. Make the streusel topping by mixing all ingredients together with a fork or fingers. Now sprinkle on the reserved 1/2 cup oat mixture and apple streusel topping and sprinkle over top.
  8. Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes. Allow to fully cool for at least 30-40 minutes before gently removing from pan. You can firm them up in the fridge before slicing into squares or bars (but they’re so good warm!) Apparently, the bars also freeze very well, if they last that long.
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