Thursday, February 28, 2013

Salted Cinnamon Dulce De Leche Oat Bars with Toasted Coconut

Sometimes I have the hardest time coming up with names for the things that I randomly throw together. 

Most of the time, I'll start out by experimenting with one part, hoping that it'll turn out...and then I conjure up the other components to make it into an actual dessert. 

Sometimes it works, other times notso much. 

This particular treat started with my out-of-the-blue desire to try making Dulce de Leche from sweetened condensed milk!

I had been feelin' in the mood for something caramel-y, and had always been curious about using the milk-y Dulce de Leche method. 

Well, let's just say, I think that I've had an easier time making caramel from scratch. This was only because when I began boiling the can, I got scared that it was going to explode because it was making scary popping sounds (I had read up on it, and went with the hole-poked way filling the pan with water 3/4 of the way up the can) so I chickened out and put it in a saucepan with some butter and a little bit of brown sugar. Turned out just fine!

These are pretty yummy and were definitely worth the feared kitchen explosion. I love cinnamon. And oats. And caramel. And coconut. Pretty much can't go wrong.

For the Oat base:

3 cups old-fashioned oats
220 grams melted butter (about a cup, a little less)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

For the Dulce de Leche:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp course salt

For top layer: (Can be changed to your liking!)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup (unsweetened) shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds

To make the Oat Base:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 by 13 in pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and grease. Mix together all of the base ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon (or your hands), and press into the bottom of the pan until tightly packed down. Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly browned.

To make the Dulce de Leche:

Either you can heat the ingredients over the stove top on low to medium heat, stirring constantly (and being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so it doesn't scorch) until it reaches an amber caramel-y color and tastes delicious! The other option is to microwave the ingredients in 45 second intervals, pausing to whisk until it reaches the flavor you'd like.

To assemble the bars:
Pour the Dulce de Leche over the oat layer and smooth with a spatula. Then sprinkle with coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. 

Bake in the oven until the coconut gets toasted, about 7 minutes (depending on your oven)!

And there ya gooo! Kinda time intensive, but that may have been just because I had my fiasco with the Dulce de Leche decision making. Fairly simple once you get that part down. And oh so tastey. :)

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