Peach Pie Oat Bars

As much as I can't accept it, summer has officially ended. True - it actually ended a while ago, but here in London, the weather was (and is!) holding up so well that it may as well still be summer. Anyways, what I'm really trying to get at (other than the fact that I'm devastated that summer has left) is that with summer, summer fruits are going as well. Now, I know how obvious that sounds, but seriously. I mean, it's not like there is no stone fruit or buckets of berries in the markets. It's just that they aren't that great. And that's how these peach pie bars were born.
I was searching through our fridge and countertop for some baking inspiration and I spied a mixture of peaches and nectarines that looked slightly bruised and like they were about to start shriveling. They were no longer good enough to eat straight from the counter. I was first simply going to make a sauce/compote of the fruit, so I began by blanching the fruit so I could easily remove the skin. And then it hit me. Peach pie! But I didn't want something as cumbersome, tedious or decadent as the real deal peach pie. So peach pie turned into peach crumble which eventually turned into these juicy peach pie oat bars.

I also had some almond pulp from having made almond milk, so I threw it into the mix! The base is dense, yet light and crunchy. The filling is just ah-mazing. The true flavors of the fruit really shine in a very natural, sweet and juicy peach filling. And the oat crumble is just perfect - crispy and sweet. The crumble top/streusel is always my favorite part, but in these bars, the filling really gives the topping a run for its money! As always, this is easy to throw together, doesn't require any fancy ingredients, is simple, delicious and healthy!

For the crust:
1/2 cup wet almond pulp
1 cup whole rolled oats
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup unrefined sugar
pinch of salt

For the filling:
4 peaches/nectarines, peeled and diced
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
dash of cinnamon
1 tsp flour

For the crumble topping:
1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Begin by preparing the filling. Peel and dice the peaches/nectarines (I blanched them first in order to peel them easily).

Place the the chopped fruit in a medium saucepan along with the sugar and cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil. Let the mixture reduce slightly, then add in the flour and stir until the flour dissolves completely. Let the mixture cook for another 3-5 minutes to let it thicken. Once it reaches the desired consistency, turn off the heat and set the filling aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a square or rectangular baking dish with baking paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the crust until they just come together. If your pulp is too dry, add a bit of milk. Press the crust mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 12-15 minutes until crust begins to set and just begins to turn golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven to let cool. Keep the oven on.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the topping by stirring together the ingredients for the topping. Feel free to add some chopped nuts.

Now, you're ready to assemble! Spoon the peach filling on the crust, spreading it around so it covers the entire surface of the crust. Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over the filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Cool completely, cut into squares and serve! These are delicious warm, at room temperature and cold from the fridge. Enjoy!


Banana Chocolate Nutella Surprise Muffins

Banana baked goods never fail to satisfy. They never fail to impress. They just never fail. I'm being completely serious here.

I really don't know what it is. I mean, bananas wouldn't even be on the list of my top ten favorite fruits. Before all you banana advocates out there try to defend your beloved fruit, I'd like to stop you. Yes, I know bananas make oatmeal creamy, they add sweetness to everything, they pack a great punch of energy, they can be turned into "ice cream", essentially they can do a lot. And I love them for that. But just bananas, eh, they're not really my thing.

So why are all banana baked goods so amazing? Who knows... What matters is that they are. Especially when combined with chocolate. You saw that coming, didn't you?

Long story short. These banana chocolate chip nutella surprise muffins are just wow.  Delicious, moist banana batter embedded with dark chocolate chips and filled with a "surprise" nutella center. Are you drooling yet?

A lot of the moisture and sweetness in these muffins comes from banana itself, so if you scan the recipe, you'll see that there's not much add fat or overdose of sugar. Which also means you can eat these for breakfast! And the days breakfast includes chocolate are definitely the best days! Super easy and super delicious, these muffins are definitely worth a try!

Makes 7 large muffins
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup baby oats
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 egg
3 tbsp yogurt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp nutella or other chocolate spread, melted

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, oats, baking and salt.

In a separate medium bowl, beat together egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in mashed bananas, honey, vanilla, coconut oil and yogurt and beat again.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Mix until just combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 7 muffin cups until each is 2/3 full. Dollop a small blob of nutella (so many technical terms here!) on each muffin and top with remaining batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with no crumbs or batter (it won't be clean per se, as the nutella and chocolate chips will be gooey). The tops of the muffins should be golden brown.

Cool in the muffin tray for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.

These taste so amazing all warm and gooey right after they are baked, but equally good re-heated slightly the next day.



Dark Chocolate Coconut Bread

I asked a simple question. I got stuck in a sticky situation. Is it just me, or does this happen often to everybody?
I was in such a baking mood (let's be honest - when am I not?) and so I went around asking the fam what I should bake next. My sister, as always, said it should be something with chocolate chips. My dad wanted something not too sweet and definitely not too chocolatey. I think my mom was preoccupied because she didn't really say much... Anyways, as you can see, this posed a problem. My dad and sister wanted two quite opposite things.

Somehow, I figured out the perfect compromise - this dark chocolate coconut bread. It's not too sweet, not too chocolatey, yet has chocolate, is light, healthy and outright delish!

This has a double (or even triple!) dose of coconut from the coconut oil, dessicated coconut, and coconut milk, if you choose to use it. I didn't as I didn't have any lying around at home, and let me assure you, it wasn't lacking any coconut flavor. That said, more wouldn't hurt! I chopped the dark chocolate into shreds (you don't want them too small otherwise they'll just get lost in the mixture) and added just enough to get the chocolateyness in every bite, but not so much that the chocolate flavor was too prominent or overpowering.

So easy to throw together and packed with lots of yummy flavor, this bread is the perfect snack, breakfast or light dessert.

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp whole milk or coconut milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup yogurt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate, tossed in 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a loaf pan with baking paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and coconut oil until fully mixed. Add in the eggs and beat again. Pour in the milk and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined. Gently mix in the yogurt. Finally, fold in the dessicated coconut and chopped chocolate.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Slice and serve! Enjoy!


    Gorgeous Maple Walnut Scones

    You know the feeling when you've just baked something and the aroma itself tells you that it's going to taste great? That was definitely the case with these scones. As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, oh my, was I greeted with the most warming, sweet and enticing aroma ever. It began as a homely and maple-y whiff and then came the fragrance of the beautifully toasted walnuts. That slight bitterness to cut through all the sweetness.

    And that's exactly what they do in the taste of the scones as well. They're that extra crunch embedded in a beautiful maple crumbliness. These scones are so delicious, so tender and so crumbly, all without the addition of too much butter or sugar. Scones in general are also so great because they're so portable, create minimal mess and require no refrigeration or heating up.

    These scones are perfect as they are and best served on the day they're made. They don't last more than a few days because they start losing they're crumbliness and flavor. They're made with lots of wholesome and natural ingredients and bound to make your home smell wonderful. I can't think of a reason not to make them, other than the fact that they'll be gone before you know it!

    The final step of sprinkling them with granulated sugar just before baking takes them from baked good to an elegant treat you can serve at any gathering or tea party. Be sure to use good maple syrup for the true maple flavor, not that sweet, artificial "syrup" that's often served with waffles.

    1 cup plain flour
    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup baby oats
    2 tsp baking powder
    pinch of salt
    4 tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/3 cup pure maple syrup
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    granulated sugar, for sprinkling

    Preheat oven to 200 C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.

    In a large bowl, mix together the flours, oats, baking powder and salt. Add the small chunks of cold butter (crucial that it's cold!) and mix again until the mixture has pea-sized crumbs. You could do this by beating on the lowest speed, with your hands, or even a fork. It's essential that you have some sizable chunks of butter still left, otherwise your scones will be heavy and dense, not rich and crumbly like you want them. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla and maple syrup.

    Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix. Add the buttermilk in, tablespoon by tablespoon just until the dough just about holds together. Don't add more than necessary even if you haven't added the whole 1/2 cup amount. Conversely, add slightly more if you need.  But please please please don't overmix!

    Use your hands to form the dough into a ball, then gently press down to create a circle of half inch thickness. Cut the round into 8 to 10 triangles (like a pizza), but don't fully separate the pieces. This keeps them from drying out completely!

    Sprinkle the granulated sugar on top and bake for 20 minutes until tops are golden and crunchy.

    Cool completely and serve. Enjoy!