Packing your lunch as an adult is not as quite as fun as when you were a kid. First off, growing up this chore was done for me and I loved the surprise of what lunch would hold each day. My mom was awesome in that every once in awhile she would leave us little love notes in our lunch boxes wishing us a good day or just a note to say she loved us. Looking back on that, I appreciate how it probably brightened up a bad day. Another thing that was equally as awesome, was change in our lunch boxes to get a treat from the snack cart. I never ordered school lunch, but I loved to get a treat from that cart. Whether it was a cookie bar or a bag of UTZ potato chips, it made lunch that day spectacular. It is amazing how something like that as a child can stick out in your memory. Those cookie bars are not quite as good as I remember, but I think I found a new replacement.
I got that feeling of nostalgia of getting a cookie bar when I bit into one of these bars. They have been on my to make list for quite some time (believe me this list just keeps getting longer & longer)! I hunkered down and made them. Then I enjoyed one daily in my lunchbox. Blair mentioned that he likes that I make a variety of desserts, but the thing about these bars were that they were unique. You have a brown sugary oatmeal crust, followed by a decadent fudgy layer, all topped all with dollops of the remaining crust. Again like I did with the caramel brownies, I ended up making half of the recipe. Don’t make my mistake and make the entire pan!
And here is where Blair gets the hint that I would appreciate a little love note every once in a while with my lunch 😉
Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
2 cups chocolate chips
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (15 oz.)
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, walnuts or pecans) *I did not use
What you’ll do:
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl either sift or whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. Slowly add the sifted flour mixture and mix until combined. With a wooden spoon, fold in oatmeal. Gently spread 2/3 crust into bottom of prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.
Make the filling:
Over medium-low heat, melt together chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt. Stir until smooth and thick (it should be the consistency of hot fudge). Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts, if using.
Evenly pour chocolate mixture onto crust but try to keep the filling about a 1/4 inch away from side of pan so it does not stick to side while baking. Evenly dollop top of filling with remaining oat mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is light brown and fudge layer is set, but not solid. Cool in pan on rack until set before cutting. Keep stored in airtight container.
Source: Erin’s Food Files