Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Have you ever wanted to make a pan of cookie bars so you just made a regular recipe of cookie dough, threw it in a pan and then were disappointed with the final results?  I think it has something to do with the amount of leavening required to make the bars rise enough in a pan vs just as a small cookie on a sheet pan.  Enough science though, let’s talk dessert. These oatmeal bars are a real gem – they don’t contain any butter or eggs, and bake for less than 20 minutes – peanut butter and milk provide the glue to hold these together, and lend a more earthy and hearty flavor to the end product.  They’re great served warm with milk, like their cookie cousins, but will leave you feeling a little more full thanks to the oatmeal and peanut butter.  And just like a cookie (or a Lay’s potato chip), I bet you can’t eat just one. 

Oatmeal bars v1

Oatmeal bars v2

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
Yields 24
A hearty and sweet dessert bar filled with oats, peanut butter and chocolate
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup light brown sugar
  2. 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  3. 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  4. 2 cups flour
  5. 2 cups quick-rise oatmeal (not instant)
  6. 2 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1 cup milk
  9. 12oz mini chocolate chips (1 regular bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two 9x11 metal baking pans.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until light in color and well blended. Scrape down the sides.
  4. Add the dry ingredients - flour, oats, baking soda and salt - and mix to combine. The dough will be dry and crumbly.
  5. Add the milk to the dough and stir just to combine.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and fold in to incorporate.
  7. Place half the dough in each greased baking pan. Wet hands with water and flatten dough into the pan.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
  9. Let cool, then cut 12 squares from each pan.
Notes
  1. This recipe is delicious using a gluten free flour like Bob's Red Mill or Betty Crocker's Rice Flour blend.
  2. This recipe can be halved to make 12 squares, or one 9x11 pan of bars.
  3. These bars can be frozen and defrosted to serve at a later date. Will freeze well for at least 4 weeks.
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Buttermilk Brownies

Oh boy, this one is a keeper – if you’ve never made a recipe off this site, no hard feelings, but this is the place to start.  These brownies are incredibly moist, have a delicate cake texture and are oh so full of chocolate.  So tasty.  And you know what’s the icing on the cake?  The frosting for these brownies is made in the same bowl as the batter – no dish washing required.  And that’s a good thing because you need to pour the frosting on the brownies immediately when it comes out of the oven so there’s no time for dish washing at this stage of the game.  

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 This recipes comes from my mother via a woman named Carol Jacobsen, and my mom used to serve this as part of an awesome menu of homemade bread, lasagna and salad, followed up by this tasty treat.  And since my memory is terrible I’m sure I have the whole menu I just listed entirely wrong, but whatever, it ended with this dessert.  Additionally, because you pour the frosting onto the cake right when it comes out of the oven the frosting spreads over the cake incredibly quickly and soaks into the cake – check out the line where the cake and frosting meet.  Y. U. M.

I brought these bars to work a few years back and a coworker’s sister had moved to Texas and made him a similar recipe on a visit – but she called them “Texas Sheet Cake”.  Heck, I probably call these things cake, bars and dessert all in one conversation, and it doesn’t really matter what you them as long as you think they’re delicious and gobble them up.  With a glass of cold milk.

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 UPDATE:

  • My sister sent me a note after this post and I thought it was worth sharing – due to the risk of salmonella in raw eggs it’s risky to skip on washing the bowl before making the frosting.  Just to be safe, wash it up while the brownies are baking then head straight to making the frosting.
Buttermilk Brownies
Be sure to use a jelly roll pan when baking these brownies - it's important that these brownies are very thin.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. DRY INGREDIENTS
  2. 2 cups flour
  3. 2 cups sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. WET INGREDIENTS - TO BOIL
  6. 1/2 cup butter
  7. 1 cup water
  8. 1/4 cup cocoa
  9. 1/2 cup Crisco
  10. WET INGREDIENTS - DO NOT BOIL
  11. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  12. 2 eggs
  13. 1 tsp. baking soda
  14. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  15. FROSTING
  16. 1/2 cup butter
  17. 1/4 cup cocoa
  18. 1/3 cup buttermilk
  19. 4 cups powdered sugar (unsifted)
  20. 1 tsp. vanilla
  21. A few grains of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease a large jelly roll pan with Crisco and coat the pan with flour. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt.
  4. In a 1 quart saucepan over medium heat combine butter, water, cocoa and Crisco, and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour the boiling liquid over the dry ingredients, and stir just to combine.
  6. Add the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla and mix well, quickly. Do not whip or overheat.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the greased and floured cake pan and spread evenly.
  8. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then test with a toothpick. If it doesn't come out clean cook 1-2 minutes longer, then test again with a new toothpick. Watch the brownies closely as the edges will easily burn.
  9. While the cake is baking in the oven, pour 4 cups of powdered sugar into the same bowl used for the brownie batter.
  10. Using the same saucepan as used for the cake batter liquid, combine butter, cocoa and buttermilk and bring to a boil, removing from the heat as soon as it does.
  11. Add the boiling mixture to the powdered sugar and stir until smooth, then add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine.
  12. Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately pour the frosting over them as it will spread more smoothly than when the brownies have cooled.
  13. Let the bars cool completely then cut into rectangles to serve.
  14. Wrap the remaining brownies in the original pan with plastic wrap to keep this fresh for a few days.
Notes
  1. You can easily make this recipe gluten free by substituting Betty Crocker GF Rice Blend flour 1-to-1 for the flour in the recipe - no need to use xanthan gum.
  2. And yes, I call this dessert both cake and brownies - feel free to use the terms interchangeably as there's no right name. 🙂
Adapted from Carol Jacobsen
Adapted from Carol Jacobsen
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

 

Better than Tom Selleck Cake

What in God’s name does Tom Selleck have to do with cake?  Take a look at this bad boy.

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Yep, it tastes as good as it looks.  Maybe even better.  

This, my friends, is known as “Better than sex” cake but for those of you with a robust Catholic upbringing you may read that dessert name and inwardly cringe and become suddenly uncomfortable and don’t know where to direct your eyes.  I know I’m not alone in this weird Catholic guilt thing – you know why?  My friend’s grandma fessed up to it too.  Ha!  In an effort to not have to say the “s” word in front of her grandchildren (yea, it’s considered the “s” word if you’re Catholic) this grandma renamed it “Better than Tom Selleck” cake.  So while that’s a little silly it’s also a lot funny, so I’m going with it.  Call this cake whichever name you like better, or create your own.  My vote is on “Better than sleeping in on Sunday” cake.

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So with no further ado – let’s get to it.  This cake is incredibly moist, sweet and decadent.  To prepare it you need to make a chocolate cake – from scratch or a from a box, milk chocolate or German, doesn’t really matter in my book. (I opt for a gluten free box mix)  Once baked you’re going to stab a million little holes into it with the blunt handle end of a wooden spoon and then… pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over it.  And because that isn’t enough, then you’re going to pour on a jar of caramel sauce.  Refrigerate overnight, top with cool whip and chopped Heath bars.  Decide how much of the cake you’re going to allow yourself to eat (I don’t know, maybe one slice, like a normal person)… then eat said amount… and then try to stop there. 

 

My mother in law made this for a baby shower a year or two ago and made me my own gluten-free version (read: an entire cake for just little ol’ me) – while I love her for the personal touch, it forced me to recognize that my metabolism is no longer running at pre-teen levels (duh) and taught me that this cake keeps great in the fridge for a few days.  

Enjoy!

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Better than Tom Selleck Cake
Serves 15
Chocolate cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream and chopped Heath bars.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box mix, chocolate cake (gluten free, if desired)
  2. 14oz sweetened condensed milk
  3. 10oz caramel sauce
  4. 8oz Cool Whip
  5. 4oz Heath Bar bits
Instructions
  1. Prepare chocolate cake in a 9x11 metal pan according to the directions on the box and bake.
  2. Remove from the oven and immediately poke 50-100 holes into the cake using the handle end of a wooden spoon or a chop stick.
  3. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
  4. Heat the caramel sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds, then pour over the cake.
  5. Cover the cake and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  6. When ready to serve the cake, spread with Cool Whip and sprinkle heavily with Heath Bar bits.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/