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Baked Oatmeal

I’ve seen several posts on baked oatmeal.  The concept intrigued me and I ended up pinning a few variations.  I knew it was something I wanted to make and this Sunday was just perfect for it.  The weather has been real hit and miss – cold, wet then hot and sunny.  I started with this recipe.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that recipe except that I didn’t have all the ingredients (and I just can’t follow directions).

I had the basics – oatmeal, eggs, rice milk, maple syrup, vanilla, etc.  I had seen a version of this with chocolate chips and I thought that would be awesome.  Since I didn’t have blueberries, I thought this was a perfect time to pull out some canned cherries.  I canned cherries last summer in a variety of methods.  Some were just in water, while others were in flavored syrups.  The first one I found was cherries in rum syrup (with real rum).  The rum flavor didn’t hold out like I had hoped but the end result were sweet cherries with a little extra something you can’t quite put your finger on.  I thought, I have maple syrup but I also have cherry syrup from the canned cherries so I made the swap.

To complement the cherry flavor, I skipped the walnuts and went for almonds (and then found out we were out of walnuts so it worked out even better).  I didn’t toast the almonds, instead added them to a hand chopper and chopped away until they were almost chopped.  The end result was a mixture of almond meal and almond chunks.  The nuts added an amazing crunch to the overall dish which could have ended up mushy – everything was more soft but the nuts gave it texture, like having walnut bits in chocolate chip cookies.

The only thing I would change would be to layer the fruit and chocolate chips through out the dish instead of just sprinkling them on top.  They stayed on the top which meant that the bottom had none.  The dish is flaky and soft.  It doesn’t hold it’s shape like many casserole dishes do so there was no way to take a bite that would cut from top to bottom.  My first serving ended with several bites that didn’t have cherries or chocolate.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups oatmeal (old fashioned)
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
two pinches of kosher salt
1 cup canned cherries (or any fruit, add more or less to taste)
2 cups milk or milk substitute (we made it with rice milk)
1/3 – 1/2 cup syrup from canned cherries
1 large egg
Coconut Oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional (use 1/3 cup syrup if adding vanilla)
1 cup chocolate chips

Grease 8 inch square (or casserole) dish heavily with the coconut oil.  Sprinkle in the oatmeal, almonds, baking powder and salt.  I just added a couple of small shakes of salt.  Mix with fork until evenly combined.  In a large measuring cup, measure out milk.  Add syrup and then add egg and vanilla if using.  I found the flavor of the cherry syrup didn’t need vanilla.  Mix well and pour over oatmeal mixture.  Sprinkle on cherries and chocolate chips.

Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes.  The top should be crispy and a toothpick inserted should come out fairly clean.  Serve warm.  It was definitely awesome.  We ate it for three breakfasts and can’t wait to make another batch.

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