What’s better than a savory, chocolate treat? A HOMEMADE, savory, chocolate treat! Everyone has their go-to recipes for potlucks, family get-togethers, and sweet treats. I happen to have one too, chocolate oat squares! These sweet, delectable treats are sure to be a crowd favorite. Follow me as I share my recipe for chocolate oat squares, but first we need to learn more about each ingredient!
Chocolate Oat Square Ingredients
Butter- In the U.S. butter is made from churning cow’s milk until fat separates from the liquid buttermilk. After the fat begins to clump together, it forms butter, and the extra liquid, buttercream, is removed and placed in a separate container. Processors can add salt to the butter mixture to add more flavor. There are two kinds of butter; salted and unsalted. Unsalted butter has a shelf life around 3 months whereas salted butter has a shelf life up to 5 months because the salt acts as a preservative. Watch how butter is processed here.
Brown Sugar– Molasses is added to sugar to create brown sugar. Most of the brown sugar that is used commercially is made by adding molasses back to refined white sugar. It has a soft and moist texture. You will notice that there are two kinds of brown sugar at the store, light and dark. The difference between the two is the amount of molasses in it. Dark brown sugar contains about 6.5% molasses where as light brown sugar contains about 3.5% molasses. The thin film of molasses covers each sugar crystal giving it a rich flavor.
Eggs– Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country! Nearly 55 million laying hens produce 16 billion eggs a year in Iowa. Eggs are very important while baking. They add structure, leavening, richness, color, and flavor to your delicious treats.
Vanilla Extract– Vanilla extract is made by percolating chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water in large steel containers. The beans stay with the extracts for about 48 hours then the extract is filtered and stored in a holding tank until it is time to be bottled.
Quick Cook Oatmeal– Oatmeal is produced from a grain called oats. It is harvested and then processed. There are various types of cuts for oats, old fashioned, quick, instant, and steel cut. The total cooking time is determined by the different type of cut. Quick cook oatmeal typically has a shorter cooking time because they have a finer consistency compared to the old fashioned and steel cut oats. They are also called “One-Minute Oats.”
All-Purpose Flour– All purpose flour is the most common kind of flour you’ll find, hence the name all-purpose. It can be used in almost any recipe. It is made from a blend of both hard and soft wheat grains. The bran and the germ have been removed leaving only the starchy endosperm for the flour. It is used as a thickening agent in recipes. It also provides structure to the food product.
Salt– Salt is obtained in three ways: evaporation from sea water, mining salt from the earth, and creating salt brines. Table salt is most commonly a product of salt brines. Salt brines are made by pumping water below earth’s surface to dissolve salt deposits and to create a brine. The brine is then pumped to the earth’s surface and evaporated to create salt. This method produces a very clean, inexpensive, high yielding table salt.
Baking Soda– Baking soda is used as a leavening agent in cooking. It makes food rise by creating a reaction that causes the release of carbon dioxide. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, comes from soda ash, through the Solvay process or from trona ore.
Sweetened Condensed Milk– Sweetened condensed milk comes in a vacuum-sealed, sterile can. It is made from milk and sugar. The milk is flash-heated to 185°F for several seconds, then it is piped to an evaporator where the water is removed. After the water is removed, the milk is held under vacuum pressure until it measures between 30-40% solid. It has a thick, syrupy consistency. It is cooled and sugar is added. The added sugar helps preserve the condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk is then piped into sterilized, vacuum-sealed cans.
Semisweet Chocolate Chips– Chocolate is made from cocoa, which comes from the seeds of the cacao tree. These trees require very warm temperatures and lots of rain to grow. You can find most cacao trees where the many of the world’s rain forests lie. The pods are harvested and split by hand. Inside the pod are cacao beans and pulp. They are spread out to dry and they begin to ferment. After they are fully dried, the beans are cracked. This creates shells and nibs. The nibs are the heart of the cacao seed. They are roasted and ground. Then the perfect combination of coca butter, cocoa powder, sugar and milk are mixed together and the chocolate is made.
Walnuts– Long roads of walnut orchards in California produce 99% of the United States’ production of English walnuts. Walnuts are a nut that is produced from a walnut tree. Harvest begins in late August and lasts until late November. The orchard floor is cleaned, then mechanical shakers shake each tree causing thousands of walnuts to fall to the ground. After the nuts are on the ground, mechanical harvesters are used to pick them up for cleaning. The nuts then travel to the processing plant where the outer green husk is removed by a huller and the nut is dried to 8% moisture level. After the walnuts are dried, they can either be packaged as inshell walnuts or shelled walnuts. The inshell walnuts are sized following the drying stage. Sizes include jumbo, large, medium, or baby, according to USDA standards. The shelled walnuts are further processed where they are cracked, screened, and sorted. They are hand-sorted before they are packaged. Watch this video how walnuts are processed.
Chocolate Oat Squares
Recipe from: Jennifer Eilts
1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, softened, divided
2 Cups packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3 Cups quick cook oatmeal
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 Cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 Cup chopped walnuts
- In a large mixing bowl, cream cup butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and baking soda; stir into creamed mixture. Press two-thirds of oat mixture into a greased 15x10x1″ baking pan.
- In a saucepan, combine the milk, chocolate chips and remaining butter and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat, stir in walnuts and remaining vanilla. Spread over crust. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture.
- Bake at 350 F for 20-23 minutes or until golden brown Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares.
Now it’s time to enjoy your chocolate oat squares!
Do you have a go-to recipe too? Share your recipe in the comments and maybe next time your recipe will be highlighted in our What’s Cookin’ segment!