oatmeal cookie bars with almond graham cracker crust

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You know what’s a bad combination?  Big life decisions and a nascent iced coffee addiction.  As if I wasn’t already vibrating out of my chair here at my desk trying to soothe the hordes of what might as well be gerbils who’ve gone off their Ritalin squirming up my shoulders from the regular iced decaf – yes, DECAF – I sucked down earlier.  I’m a wuss at the mercy of a completely indifferent universe that is in no way plotting against me, but just has really bad timing.

I need more coffee.

That’s a lie.  I don’t need more coffee.  What I need is to be a grown-up, to be patient, to make a possibly tough choice, and to trust that I’ll be able to make everything okay, regardless of whether things turn out the way that’s easiest for me.  And, like, believe in myself, or some crap.  It’s not that hot, and I’m wearing a cute shirt.  Things can’t turn out too badly!

While I’m tizzying away over here, I’ve left you a recipe.  Remember when I told you about my sort of unsettling lack of restraint when it comes to combining lots of good things into one?  That may or may not be what happened here.  My favorite twin sister, thoughtfully acknowledging my current dearth of funds, requested “something with oatmeal and maybe almonds or hazelnuts and not that much chocolate” for her/our birthday; I went for all of the above plus more.  So while I stew in my own anxiety, please enjoy.

Oatmeal Cookie Bars with Almond Graham Cracker Crust

For bars:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups oats

3 cups almonds, chopped

1 recipe graham cracker crust

 

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a 13×9 inch pan.  Pat graham cracker crust into pan; bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven; set aside.

While crust is baking, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Gradually stir in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in oats.

Evenly sprinkle chopped almonds over baked crust.  Drop batter by tablespoonfuls over, then smooth to an even layer.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until edges are golden.  Cool completely before cutting.

gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

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The last time I tried to make something that was gluten-free (white chocolate macadamia nut cookies), I made a point not to tell anyone until after they tasted it.  And it worked really well – every single person raved about how good they were and couldn’t believe that they were gluten-free.

chuck it all in the food processor

The one person with whom I didn’t pull my shenanigans, though, was my food snob coworker, and he took full advantage.

Me: “Here, Nick.  Try one.  These are gluten-free, but I made some regular ones that I’ll bring over in a sec.”

Nick (taking a bite): “Eh, they’re not bad.  For gluten-free.”

ready for the oven

Yeah, okay.  I get it.  Gluten-free is a turnoff, as are vegan and vegetarian and all of those food philosophies that require dietary modification.  And, to be honest, I kind of agree, if only because a “food philosophy” just sounds radically pretentious.

The one exception, though, is those recipes that are unintentionally dietarily philosophical, the ones that don’t require rice flour or fermented cashews or whatever the digestively challenged substitute for real food in their baked goods.  This is one of those recipes.  You won’t find any suspicious health food store ingredients in here – just chocolate, almonds, honey, and a pinch here and there of things you probably already have sitting in your pantry.  And even if you work in an office that houses all breeds of eaters, I defy them all to find a reason to abstain.

 

drizzled and cute

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted generously from Jen

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup almonds (I used lightly salted)

3 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners or lightly grease each cup.

In a food processor, combine chocolate chips and almonds until they have the consistency of coarse sand.  Add eggs, agave, vanilla, and salt; pulse ten seconds or until combined.

Fill each cup to just over 3/4 full.  Bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool in pan five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Decorate with your favorite frosting, or just drizzle on some melted chocolate like I did.