I never set out to be an oatmeal expert, but one baked oatmeal with an enormous following at a local cafe put the wheels into motion. For those who haven’t read the story in one of my umpteen other recipe posts for baked oatmeal, I initially started making baked oatmeal years ago to replicate a gem of a recipe offered at a local, corner cafe called Fred and Mary’s. Judy, the owner and creator of this masterpiece, sadly passed away without ever sharing her recipe. When I looked at existing recipes for baked oatmeal, they all seemed to have more sugar and oil than oats, and I knew there must be a better way.
In the process of countless cooking experiments with oats, I learned quite a lot about general baking and, specifically, gluten-free baking. Although gluten-free baking came on my radar a year or two later when the first of a couple of family members discovered a gluten intolerance, I was committed to making my baked oatmeals without the use of flour for a couple of reasons. First, Judy had shared with me a couple of details about her secret recipe; there was not a speck of flour in it. Moreover, why use it if there is a better way?
So even though I have already created oodles of baked oatmeal recipes that my family loves and have become quite popular on this blog (click HERE for the original recipe–which actually won a national recipe contest!–and scan through the breakfast category to see all the variations that have come since), I still experiment so that I continue to learn new ways of putting wholesome ingredients together in simple, delicious ways. I joke with my kids that I should work in a test kitchen…or maybe be one of Bobby Flay’s assistants when he is trying to come up with a recipe for one of his Throw-down challenges!
The cookie photo shown above depicts how I spent two afternoons recently. I was working on developing recipes using instant oats. In the past, I have cooked a lot with old-fashioned and steel cut oats, and I even have recipes where I think quick oats really shine. But I had not baked with instant oats much. So, I created a series of mini batches using a variety of oats and various fruit purees (applesauce, apple butter, pumpkin puree, and mashed banana), nut butters, and egg to see how these ingredients would interact with the different textures of the various types of oats. (Interestingly, all oats share the same terrific health benefits; it is the texture and cooking time that vary greatly from one type to the next.)
What I found was most interesting, and I came up with several super simple combinations that make for fabulous and fast breakfast or general snack cookies. I took some of the successful combinations a few steps further, adding a couple of extra ingredients to create more easy recipes. Several still need some fine tuning, but I am confident I will be sharing more recipes that fill the need for an easy, hearty snack or breakfast on the run.
Following is our favorite combination with notes describing various options. Two girl friends happened to stop by at just the right time for samples and thought the 2-ingedient cookies were reminiscent of banana bread. They enjoyed the pumpkin and apple sauce varieties with a smear of peanut butter on top. The success of the mashed banana oat combination is notable in my family because my two sons don’t particularly care for bananas. Yet they love these. A few chocolate chips help, but raisins or other dried fruit, nuts, or shredded coconut could also be used. An addition of 2-3 tablespoons per half cup of oats is a good ratio for us and allow the cookie to stay in tact.
- 1/2 cup (45 grams) quick oats (not old-fashioned or instant)
- 1/2 cup very ripe mashed banana (frozen is fine; see notes for substitutions)
- Optional: 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (may substitute raisins, chopped nuts, etc.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mash the banana with a fork, and then stir in the quick oats until thoroughly combined.
- If desired, add chocolate chips or a mix-in of choice. (For extra sweetness, you may add a teaspoon or two of maple syrup or honey, but I would make without the first time as you probably won't need it.)
- Form two cookies from the mixture, and place on a parchment-lined or very well-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies are just cooked through.
- My kids do not love bananas yet they love these cookies, especially with the added treat of chocolate chips. If you really are not a fan of bananas, apple butter, applesauce, pumpkin butter, and pumpkin puree all provide good texture and may be substituted. With the apple and pumpkin butter, I like to add nuts, raisins, and a little cinnamon. Apple sauce and pumpkin puree result in a blander tasting cookie, so you may wish to add a little honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, etc. Feel free to experiment and find combinations you enjoy.