Chocolate Steel Cut Oats

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When I was younger, oatmeal was something I always wanted to like but never actually enjoyed. The smell of cinnamon and sugar would always lure me in, and the toppings of nuts and dried fruits made my mouth water. I would ladle myself up a bowl and be ready for a wonderful culinary experience.  Then it all fell apart at that first bite, and I remembered that I did not, in fact, like oatmeal.  Oatmeal is often blah/plain tasting and too mushy.  Not my preferred breakfast.

So then why am I giving you a recipe for oatmeal? Steel cut oats. They make all the difference. Steel cut oats are pieces of the inner portion of the oat and taste nuttier and chewier than normal oats. Steel cut oats are more often used in Scotland and Ireland, while England uses typically rolled oats. The more you know!

That’s one against England, but their accents and Kate’s fashion sense can make up for this.

Now that I am back in the grind of school and work, I am once again eating oatmeal  for lunch pretty much every weekday since it’s an easy meal for on the go and reheats well.  I have made oatmeal so often that I have it down to an exact science on my stove and can tell when it’s down just by looks and sound.

Some of my favorite oatmeal flavors I have made are cinnamon raisin, apple cranberry, oatmeal scotchie, and prune (yes, prune). But then one day I stirred some chocolate cocoa powder into my oatmeal, and I haven’t looked back.  This chocolate oatmeal tastes decadent without too much guilt. Of course, you can always add some additional chocolate chips or swirl in some peanut butter if you are feeling daring.

How can you have a bad day when you get to eat chocolate for lunch?  That is my theory at least, and it has been working for me so far to survive graduate school.

CHOCOLATE STEEL CUT OATS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup steel cut oats
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS

Combine steel cut oats, salt, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-25 minutes until almost all the water has been absorbed. Stir in vanilla extract, light brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Cook for 4-8 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Eat immediately or store in fridge overnight for the next day.

Serves 1-2.

*Use the base of 1:3 ratio of oats to liquid to make any flavor of oatmeal your heart desires. I recommend stirring in dried fruit or chocolate chips after the oatmeal has cooled off the heat for a while.  Sprinkle nuts on top just before eating.

Baked Oatmeal

Throw out your preconceived notions about oatmeal.  This baked oatmeal is the antithesis of the instant oatmeal packets which always turn out mushy, flavorless, and boring.  It uses steel cuts oats, which are very different from traditional oatmeal.  Steel cut oats are chewier, nuttier, and I love them.  Baking them up with some fruits creates a warm, substantial breakfast that gives you the energy to make it through to lunch.  No watery oats here!

The possibilities of flavor combinations are endless once you have the method of baking steel cut oats- I have made many versions of this oatmeal.  My personal favorites have been apple, pear, and peanut butter banana (almost like a dessert oatmeal).  Make this on Sunday morning for breakfast then enjoy the leftovers for the rest of the week.  Or eat it for a heart warming, comforting dinner like I do

PS- Can you see a sassy food blogger reflected in my utensil? How did she get there?

BAKED OATMEAL
INGREDIENTS
1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 apples, chopped*
1 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For serving: peanut butter, cream cheese, maple syrup
DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a baking dish (about 2 quarts).

In a large bowl, combine steel cut oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pecans. Stir in chopped apples. In a large measuring cup, whisk milk, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla extract together. Pour oat mixture into prepared baking dish. Spread in an even layer. Pour liquid mixture over top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until oatmeal is set and top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with peanut butter, cream cheese, or maple syrup if desired.

Serves 4.

*For the fruit you can also replace apples with 2 pears, 2 bananas, 2 cups blueberries.  Or you can mix and match with blueberry banana, apple and pear, and more.