An Anna Recipe: Toffee Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie Bars

It’s been a while since I’ve had a guest blogger here at Curiouser & Curiouser, and that’s a shame because there are lots of wonderful people in my life who have interesting, funny, informative, etc. things to share. (In fact, I was looking back into the archives of my blog and realized that it’s been four years since I published guest posts — here, here, and here — which is far too long.)

And so I was thrilled when my amazing friend Bethany Novak (author of the laugh-out-loud-funny blog My Fake Food Blog) agreed to author a guest post for Curiouser & Curiouser. Bethany and I met when we worked at Mullen Advertising together here in Winston-Salem, and now she lives in Richmond. We don’t get to see each other nearly as much as we’d like to, but we’re able to stay super close thanks to technologies like texting, Gchatting, and FaceTime. She’s maybe the funniest person I know, and she’s one of my very favorite people on the planet.

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Take it away, Bethany!:

Oh, hello, Curiosities. Curiouser & Curiousers. Readers of Anna’s Blog.

Hello!

When Anna asked me to write a guest post, I wasn’t sure what to write. I could get a bit more thoughtful, something I don’t often do on my blog. (Never. I NEVER do it on my blog.) I mostly go with sarcastic quippiness while talking about food.

Ah. Food. DUH. That’s it. I write a (fake) food blog. That’s what I should talk about.

Here’s the thing. Anna is my best friend, but on matters of food, we sometimes differ. See, my culinary style is homey comfort food. And Anna’s style is, well, less that.

A recent conversation shows what I’m talking about.

Anna: Have you ever tried kelp noodles? I really want to try this recipe that uses them for raw vegan pad thai.
Bethany: Yeah, that…does not sound good.

If I’m being honest, dear readers, I MAY have said the word disgusting. To be fair, I also went back and said that we eat kelp for sushi and maybe it wouldn’t be that gross.

I so appreciate what Anna is going for here. She’s in search of healthy alternatives to often delicious options that lack nutritive value. I am ALL for that so long as there is equal or nearly equal amounts of flavor.

For example, these muffins. These muffins are delicious. They taste like dessert but they are chock full of good-for-you stuff. (But I have never and will never eat a banana and I have never and will never eat a banana peel. That straight up belongs in the trash, people.)

I had a whirlwind trip to North Carolina this past weekend and in preparation for my guest post, I decided that I was going to find an Anna recipe for us to make.

I turned to the internet to do some incredibly thorough research.

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Boom. Nailed it.

In reality, I did a bit more research than that. I’m not a MONSTER. But, I did have a few requirements:

  • The recipe had to sound flippin’ delicious. (Kind of an obvious one, but…kelp noodles, y’all…there needs to be some so-called appetite appeal.)
  • We had to have all ingredients on hand. This would require require no additional trips to the store because we had really limited time. If we didn’t have the materials, we’d have to keep looking.
  • We could be vegan, but if the recipe called for it, I would not substitute chocolate for a faux chocolate. Some things are sacred.

We settled on a recipe from Oh She Glows, a vegan food blog that Anna has sent me a few times. Her site is pretty legit, so I looked through the popular section and found a recipe for Toffee Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie Bars.

They’re vegan (or, in our case, nearly vegan) and gluten free. Really easy to make. I made my first flax egg. I was surprised at how it really does bind like an egg.

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And then I started thinking the same thing I think every time I eat something slightly peculiar—who was the first person to try this? Like…oysters. Who looked at those and was like…”I bet there’s something I can eat in those rocks!”?

I digress.

The batter came together well, we subbed a bit of brown rice flour to make up for a deficit in almond flour, and they sure smelled great whilst baking.

So, check on the health. But…how was the flavor?

Honestly, they tasted great. A bit more like a granola than a cookie, I think largely due to the number of oats and oat flour. And while they did have a nice rich flavor, I didn’t ever get any toffee notes from it. The cinnamon and the chocolate were the most pronounced flavors. Were I to make this again, I might try the packed brown sugar vs. the coconut sugar to see what that does to the toffee flavor.

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Also, we accidentally skipped a step in the recipe in our haste to taste. We did not let the bars cool enough so they were INCREDIBLY crumbly. But, that just opened the door to the idea that this would make an excellent topping for some vanilla ice cream. (Or, ya know, whatever appropriately tasty vegan substitute.)

Thankfully, the world has room for Anna recipes and Bethany recipes. In fact, in fact the world is much better when those are together.

Much like Anna and Bethany themselves.

Cue the studio audience:

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