Dessert of the Month: Oat Walnut Marmalade Squares

These delicate squares have a snappy shortbread crust that is not only irresistibly good, but also vegan and gluten-free. Creating whole-grain shortbread without butter is a challenge; however, to make it without flours containing gluten as well may be one of the greatest tests a vegan pastry chef can face. The secret to good vegan shortbread is in the combination of whole-grain and nut flours along with coconut oil; add a splash of vinegar to give the dough that unmistakable buttery tang.

These squares are perfect served with tea or as an after-dinner sweet, as they won’t weigh you down. In fact, they manage to be both refreshing and comforting, thanks to the thin layer of marmalade and a scattering of maple-infused oats and nuts on top. The other bonuses are that they come together fast with ingredients that are common in a well-stocked pantry, and they store well in the fridge — that’s if you don’t find them endlessly tempting!

Oat Walnut Marmalade Squares
Be sure to use gluten-free oats and oat flour if you have a gluten allergy.
Makes 24 (2-inch) squares

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

10-ounce jar orange marmalade

2 tablespoons maple sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Line a 13-by 9-inch baking pan (also known as a quarter sheet pan) with parchment paper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the crust:
Add oats, coconut, almond meal and salt to a food processor and grind until fine. Transfer to a medium bowl and add oat flour and rice flour; stir to combine. Drizzle in oil and mix until evenly combined, then add maple syrup and vinegar, and mix until dough forms a ball. If mixture is sticky, set aside for 15 minutes to allow the oats to absorb the excess moisture. Press dough thinly and evenly into prepared pan and prick the surface with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before covering with marmalade.

Make the topping:
Combine maple sugar, maple syrup, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add oats and walnuts, and stir again until evenly combined. Crumble mixture over marmalade and bake 20 minutes or until walnuts look toasted and edges are golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen came out this fall. She blogs at

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