Saturday, March 2, 2013

Toasted S'mores Baked Oatmeal




Looking outside the glass of my windows, I can't help but feel lonely these days. Finally, after months of warm winter weather, the snow has hit us, and it's certainly not holding back anymore. Perfectly lain fields of white gloss over everything, making the world seem sterile and uncomfortable. Usually these things would be looked upon as beautiful and fragile; but I long to break the untouched world that the snow has created. I long to shake the tree tips and run through the hills of white as quickly as they would allow me to.


This snow has shaken us down to the bone. My family and I sit in this house, while it sputters out as much heat as it can give. And although we cuddle under blankets in a seventy-two degree room, we still shiver. I miss the days of summer.


I miss campfire rings and late night stargazing. I miss sticky, marshmallow-ed fingers, licked clean, but only to be dirtied again by the soot and ash of a slowly dying fire. I miss the smell of camp, lingering on my sweatshirts and blankets even after being thoroughly washed. Midnight ghost stories and overwhelming amounts of laughter, followed by the silence of the night. Some might say it's the same silence that fills the air now, but I disagree. Summer's silence holds secrets and stories untold.


Secrets of snickering teenagers. Secrets, held in the whispering breeze that wafts through your hair on a lazy day outside. Secrets, captured between the moon and the stars and the constellations that somehow- impossibly, it seems- connect. Secrets of the perfect s'more sandwich, roasted over a crackling fire; perfectly messy and golden.






These things I cannot replicate; especially when I am surrounded by the frigid accessories of summer's counterpart. But I can reminisce, and take comfort in the place of which I am most familiar. The heated oven, although it cannot speak that unmistakable crackle, can be compared to the warmth of an open flame. The ingredients remain the same, yet, in a way, they are not. There is something about the way a campfire builds a s'more that cannot be replicated in the kitchen, no matter how toasted the marshmallow and creamy the chocolate. This is one of summer's secrets that I have yet to unveil.



This oatmeal strives to replicate the perfect s'more. Oats are the perfect base for a s'more parody, given their slightly crunchy yet creamy texture. Chocolate oatmeal is made rich using banana, cocoa, and almond milk. The banana is not tasted, but the texture ensures that you know something, something decadent, is there. The creamy chocolate oatmeal is topped with a graham cracker-like topping, made with oats and bran, and sweetened to traditional graham cracker-perfection with cinnamon and honey. When baked together, you can't help but be reminded of the layers upon layers of chocolate and crackers gobbled down around the fire.


And marshmallows. How could you ever have s'mores without marshmallows? (Actually, I can admit to eating my fair share of chocolate-cracker sandwiches.) Toasted on top of the already warm, oozing oatmeal, marshmallow fluff really sets the mood and the flavor for this breakfast or dessert. It seeps into the oats and runs over your plate; just like the countless marshmallows that dripped from the roasting stick, and landed with a sizzle into the open flame. Rich chocolate, crunchy and lightly-sweetened graham, and gooey marshmallow topping, fused into the textured and hearty oatmeal, all come together into what could be considered the closest thing to summer's hidden recipe for the perfect s'more.


Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup oats, 2 tbsp. set aside
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder (dark or regular)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 banana
  • 3-4 tbsp. almond milk, or milk of choice
  • pinch of sweetener, if desired
  • 2-3 tbsp. graham cracker or bran cereal, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp. honey (maple syrup may be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp. marshmallow fluff + a few drops hot water 
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a ramekin by lightly spraying or greasing the sides and bottom. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine the graham cracker/bran cereal, 2 tbsp. of the oats, and the cinnamon. Grind until the oats are a flour-like consistency and everything is well combined. Transfer to a dish and add the maple syrup. Stir until thick and crumbly.

In a bowl, combine the rest of the oats, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add in the banana, and mash it into the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla and combine. Pour in the almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, until a batter forms. You may or may not need all three tablespoons. The batter should be wet but not soaking. Transfer to the prepared ramekin. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

When the 10 minutes are up, carefully take out. Place the graham cracker oats onto the top of the chocolate oats, and pack down. Place back in the oven for about 3 minutes, or until the top is fragrant and golden.

Combine the marshmallow fluff with a few drops of hot water. Stir until the fluff becomes a bit runny. Drizzle over the oats while still hot. If desired, toast the top with a kitchen torch or lighter. Be careful not to burn or set fire. 

Indulge. 




Even before the first bite, I was basking in the warming memories of long summer nights and the gentle setting sun, beginning to be replaced by the glow of the fire. True s'mores belong to nights such as these. But in the mean time, delicious oatmeal breakfasts filled to the brim with rich chocolate, sweet cinnamon and honey, and oozing mallow can bring back the flavors.
Even Cosette tries her best to stay warm these past few weeks. I find her curled beneath blankets, and on top of heaters. Or, in this case, on top of the background for today's photos. But what can I do? This cat has a mind of her own, and she is never afraid to show it.


With a new month comes new hope, new recipes, and hopefully new weather. I can't wait to see what March brings for us; as long as it's not more snow! If so, I might have to stock up on more marshmallows and graham crackers. This was the perfect breakfast.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Meghan, for taking my shivers away. If for only a few moments. I myself have cabin fever. I prefer warmth and sunshine over the beauty of the snow. This tasty treat will defiantly bring warmth to my soul. I can hardly wait for that first bite. Stay warm my friend.

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