February 1, 2011

Turrón de Avena–Chocolate Oatmeal Wafer Bars


 As I've mentioned in previous posts, one of the best things about this blog is the emails I get from readers requesting recipes–I hope that From Argentina With Love is a reference point for those folks who have married into it (as I have), who have traveled to Argentina and fallen in love with it,  for those readers who are the descendants of immigrants from Argentina, and even those who are expats, themselves! 

Not long ago I got just such an email from Alex, requesting a recipe "I used to have as a child when I went to my grandmother's house, but she has passed away and my father (and his family) have no trace of a recipe for it. "

That request was for a recipe for Socotrocco, also commonly known as Turrón de Avena/Turrón de Chocolate, Turrón de Quaker, or Turrón Aleman (German Torte).  Avena means oatmeal, and Quaker is a brand commonly used in Argentina (as in the US).  Its name is different from region to region, but the outcome is the same–it's melted chocolate and oatmeal layered with Criollitas crackers (or water crackers, similar to a Saltine cracker). (Note:  Criollitas are available at many latin groceries that carry goods from Argentina, as well as online grocers like Amigo Foods and Gaucho Gourmet.)

I wasn't able to find much about the history and origins of this particular treat, To me, this is another example of industrious Argentineans making something out of nothing, as they have so often had to do in the course of their tumultuous history.  This recipe is not just simple to make, but also has the simplest ingredients–crackers, butter, oats, chocolate.  Nothing fancy or costly, this Turrón is just the type of treat served after dinner among family at abuela's house. 

Turrón could easily be one of those 'staple desserts' that one has around the house like lemon bars or peanut butter cookies–a nice everyday treat.  It's also delicious as an afternoon snack with a cup of hot coffee. 

Thanks for the request, Alex–I hope this brings back happy memories for you!  Please keep your emails coming–they are wonderful, heartwarming and inspiring!

Find me on facebook:  Rebecca Caro or From Argentina With Love, on twitter: @RebeccaCaro.  I can be reached by email at rebeccatcaro@hotmail.com.

Turron_de_avena I 

Turrón de Avena

Chocolate Oatmeal Wafer Bars

This recipe is easily doubled for a crowd, but is also the type of dessert that is great to have around just to nosh on.  There are also a number of scrumptious variations, like adding a layer of melted chocolate over the top in place of a final layer of the chocolate, or adding layers of crushed hazelnut or walnut amongst the layers.  Dulce de Leche would also be heavenly layered in.  For a special occasion, pipe the names of your guests on the top of their slice of Turron with a tube of frosting before serving.

2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 3/4 cup rolled oats (Quaker Oats)

1/2 cup milk

1 packet Criollitas crackers ('water' crackers or Saltines may be substituted if Criollitas are not available.)

Line a rectangular bread pan or 9×9 inch square roasting pan with aluminum foil.  It's helpful to leave some extra foil at the edges, like a sling, to easily remove the finished Turron as one block from the pan for cutting.

In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 sticks of butter over low heat.  Stir in the sugar, milk, and cocoa powder and stir until there is a uniform mixture.  Add in the oats, and stir to incorporate.  Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  When the mixture reaches a boil, turn off the stovetop and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, layer the Criollitas crackers on the bottom of the pan, side by side, forming an even layer.  Then, using a measuring cup, pour some of the chocolate oat mixture over the crackers, and spread into an even layer atop the crackers.  Layer on another layer of Criollitas, and then another layer of the chocolate oat mixture.  Repeat until you have no more crackers, or chocolate mixture; end with a layer of chocolate oat on the top.

Place the pan in the freezer until very cold, about one and a half to two hours.  Remove the pan from the freezer, pull the Turron out using the foil, and place on the counter.  Using a sharp knife, slice the Turron into slices about 4 inches long and one inch wide.

Serve with hot coffee.


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