Ever since I left Halifax nine years ago, I have missed eating Mrs P’s oatcakes. They are crumbly, almost sandwich-like things: round oatcakes stuck together with peanut butter icing and dipped in chocolate. They are the perfect thing to eat, sitting at a coffee shop downtown, trying to study, but actually thinking about where life will go.
Every time I go back to Halifax, I search out Mrs P’s oatcakes. If one coffee shop doesn’t carry them anymore, no, I can’t stay, I’m off to the next. A visit isn’t complete without a chocolate peanut butter oatcake (or seafood chowder, for that matter).
But those visits just aren’t enough.
I longed for my own oatcake source, and I realized Mrs P was probably never going to expand from her small bakery on Herring Cove Road outside Halifax to supply coffee shops in Victoria.
It was all up to me.
A chocolate peanut butter oatcake is a serious thing, so I did my research and came up with these. They loosely follow a recipe that’s all over the Internet for “Cape Breton Oatcakes.”
I made a few changes to make them better suit my memory, and added the chocolate and peanut butter icing, à la Mrs P. They’re easy to make – almost like making a pie with oats the way you cut in the butter and shortening.
Without the chocolate and the peanut butter icing, these oatcakes are pleasantly sweet, but not overly so. In fact, I’m already looking forward to making a savoury variation, probably with cheese and chipotle.
If you’re ever in Halifax, I’d highly recommend you find Mrs P’s oatcakes. But if you’re not, make these.
Mrs P, thank you for the inspiration. Bless you for coming up with the idea of putting oatcakes, peanut butter and chocolate together.
A note for gluten-free people:
This recipe will only work for you if you can tolerate oats. Make sure you find oats that were grown in an uncontaminated field and processed in an uncontaminated factory. My favourite oats come from Cream Hill Estates.
chocolate peanut butter oatcakes
bakes 60 wee oatcakes
2 c. rolled oats
2/3 c. oat flour
1 1/3 c. wheat flour
Or gluten-free flours:
2/3 c. sweet white sorghum flour
1/3 c. tapioca starch
1/3 c. sweet rice flour
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
up to 1/2 c. cold water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie pan (or two) with parchment paper.
Pulse the rolled oats in the food processor a few times to break them up.
Stir the pulsed oats, oat flour, wheat or gluten-free flours, baking powder and salt together. Stir in the brown sugar.
Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter and vegetable shortening. Mix well. Add a bit of cold water and stir together. Keep adding water until it holds together and isn’t crumbly (but also isn’t sticky).
Use your hands to spread and pat the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Make it about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. With a butter knife, cut squares. Then cut each square diagonally in half to make triangles.
Place triangles on prepared cookie pan. They can be quite close together, as the cakes don’t expand as much as puff up while they bake.
Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until their edges are just golden.
peanut butter icing
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 c. icing or powdered sugar
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
up to 2 tbsp. milk
+ 4 to 5 oz. dark chocolate for drizzling
Whip the peanut butter, icing sugar, butter and vanilla together. Slowly add the milk until you have a consistency that is easy to spread, but will also harden well.
assembling the oatcakes
Once the oatcakes are cooled, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or in a metal bowl suspended over boiling water).
Spread each oatcake with an untidy dollop of peanut butter icing.
Use a fork to drizzle chocolate over the peanut butter icing.
Chill the oatcakes in the fridge to allow the icing and chocolate to harden.