These wholesome oatmeal bars taste good enough to win over children who tend to shy away from what's said to be good for them. Adding to the enticement is that these bars can be dressed up in their own colorful guise for Halloween or Thanksgiving, with pumpkin-colored icing and candy corn toppings, with marzipan carrots served on the side.
Alternatively, the bars can be topped with a favorite icing or frosting, or a simple dusting of powdered sugar, to serve at any time of year. They are fun to offer at parties, can be wrapped to give away in goodie bags, or packed for lunch boxes. And they'll be more than acceptable to offer to hungry attendant parents who may be hovering around the youngsters' activities.
The marzipan carrots will also make a nice garnish for pumpkin cheesecake or pie or carrot cake.
Oatmeal Almond Cake
7-ounce package almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup applesauce, sweetened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats (not rolled)
Optional: Easy Almond Icing (recipe follows), or favorite icing or a little powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan (or line with foil and spray with cooking spray to ease lifting whole cake out of pan. This little extra step not only makes it easier to cut the cake into neater pieces, but saves the life of pans with coated surfaces.)
Grate almond paste on large hole side of box grater and place in mixing bowl. Add sugar to almond paste and, using electric mixer, beat until combined. Add butter and beat until light in color (about 2 minutes).
Add eggs one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Pour in applesauce and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.
Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Stir or beat flour and oats into wet ingredients until mixed. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and, if desired, cover with favorite frosting, icing or a light sifting of powdered sugar; or decorate with colored almond icing and candy corn. When quite cool, cut into 1 1/2-by-2-inch bars.
Makes 24 pieces.
Easy Almond Icing
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Yellow food coloring and red food coloring, optional
Sift powdered sugar into bowl. Add milk and extract. Color, if desired, to pumpkin-orange shade using mostly yellow food coloring with a drop or two of red. Mix frosting until smooth and spread on cake.
Recipe from Andre Prost Inc., Odense Almond Paste.
7-ounce package marzipan
Yellow food coloring and red food coloring
10 parsley sprigs
Flatten out marzipan slightly, make a well in it and add a few drops of food coloring, using about 2 drops of yellow for every drop of red to get a nice carrot-colored orange. Knead in the coloring. Make 30 balls in slightly different sizes (to make carrots of varied sizes). Roll each ball between fingers into a carrot shape. With a toothpick, make markings across carrots for realistic wrinkles and make a slight indentation in top for stem. Use parsley stems to make carrot tops. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Tip for making marzipan carrots: To prevent marzipan from sticking, dust hands lightly with confectioner's sugar or wear plastic gloves.