Oatmeal Maple Bars with Pecan Graham Crust

It’s autumn-overload around here, guys. It’s funny though, because that statement applies to most everything out here except for the weather. After growing up in the northeast for all but the past year, sunny and 74°F doesn’t quite register in my head as fall. Without fail though, I seem to be having a mental block, where my brain knows it’s November, so it must be the time of year where I pull out my fall clothes. This muddled thinking has led me to regularly dress WAY too warm for work. As in everyone else is wearing t-shirts while I’m clad in a chunky knit sweater and leather boots, and probably brought a jacket just in case, too. Easy to pick the transplant out of the crowd, huh?

Maybe it’s to make up for the still-summer weather, but I’ve been overcompensating in the kitchen. Maple this, pumpkin that…I can’t seem to help myself. And this recipe is no different. I saw a bottle of pure maple extract on the shelf at our local natural foods grocer and before I knew it, it was sitting pretty in my basket. It imparts such a warm, rich flavor, I’m still scratching my head as for why it hadn’t made an appearance in my kitchen sooner.

But I better get it all out of my system before December though, right? After all, that’s peppermint season.

: )

Oatmeal Maple Bars with Graham Pecan Crust

Oatmeal Maple Bars with Pecan Graham Crust

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tbsp yogurt (I suggest vanilla)
7 sheets of graham crackers (I used 7 because there’s 8 in a sleeve…and I wanted to eat one)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (if not using cinnamon graham crackers)

1/2 cup oats, finely ground into oat flour
1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 egg
1/4 + 1/8 cup canola oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure maple extract
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Finely chop pecans (I used a food processor). Place graham crackers in a carefully-sealed plastic bag and smush with a rolling pin until grahams are fine crumbs. Combine pecans, graham crumbs, and yogurt in bowl and mix until it resembles this consistency:

Pecan Graham Crust BatterFeel free to add more/less of the crust ingredients to reach the end goal of a malleable mixture that adheres when pressed together.
3. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray. Firmly press crust mixture into bottom of pan and set aside. Depending on how thick or thin your crust is, you may have some extra mixture. You can either make a thicker crust, or made an additional, smaller pan of bars.
4. Lightly beat egg in a medium bowl and add oil, butter, maple extract, milk, and brown sugar. Mix until there are no lumps and batter is smooth.
5. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
6. Pour wet mixture into dry and combine.
7. Stir in whole oats until well integrated.
8. Pour mixture into pan (on top of crust) and smooth top with spatula so that it bakes evenly.

Oatmeal Maple Bars
9. Bake time will vary depending on what size pan you use. For me, the smaller, heart-shaped pan was finished baking in 15 minutes, while the larger pan took a few minutes extra. My suggestion would be to keep a close eye and test with a toothpick/metal skewer for doneness.
10. Once cool, cut into bars.

How do you handle being somewhere that’s just not quite as “seasonal” as you’re used to?