Caramel Crumb Bars with nuts

I haven’t made bars in what seems forever. I enjoy baking bars during the warm months because they can be baked in a shorter amount of time than a batch of cookies so my oven is not heating up my house for over an hour! I do freeze a good portion of cookie dough so I don’t typically bake a whole batch at once.

I found this recipe on several blogs,  it comes from Nick Malgieri, who has said that he would choose this cookie above all others in the recipe’s intro. With a declaration like that, I had to give these a go.
Imagine, if you will, a crust that is  buttery and a bit crumbly, much like a delicate shortbread cookie. On top is a sweet and gooey caramel filling.  To top them off you crumble more of that delicate crust over the caramel.

Overall, I was not overly impressed with the final result. Each component was OK, but together they weren’t “WOW”, ya know? I added toasted walnuts to the topping and to be honest, that was my favorite part of this recipe. These are good, don’t get me wrong, but I think I had too high of expectations going in and found myself feeling let down. My taste tester liked them, but too, enjoyed these bars much better.   The crust on these bars was a bit too delicate to hold the next 2 layers and the edge peices really crumbled making transport and presentation difficult.

If I make them again I think instead of making my own caramel sauce I will use Dulce de Leche or something else, for the extra work it required it really didn’t ‘wow’ me, I have had far better caramel sauces.

I rate these a 7

Caramel Crumb Bars
from The Modern Baker

2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Caramel Filling
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray, then line the  pan with aluminum foil or parchment (leaving an overhang so you can lift the bars out) and spray again with cooking spray.

To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until soft and light, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add 2 1/4 cups of the flour, beating just until the dough is smooth and the flour has been absorbed, and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle as necessary.

Transfer 3/4 of the dough into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan to form the bottom layer. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator while you make the filling and top layer.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to the remaining dough in the mixer bowl and work it in with your fingertips until 1/8 – 1/4-inch crumbs form. Set aside.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and condensed milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. When the mixture begins to boil, whisk frequently until it begins to thicken and darkens in color slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour the filling over the bottom crust. Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly then distribute the crumb topping over the filling.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is gently bubbling and a dark caramel color. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, about 15-20 minutes. Use the foil (or parchment) to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Once completely cool, cut into 2-inch squares.

Granola Bars


I had about 3/4 cup of Rice Krispies cereal sitting in my cupboard (does this happen to anyone else? Having small random amounts of foods left over?). I was not in the cereal eating mood so turned to my online BFF Google.

About 30 seconds later my BFF  introduced me to this recipe. It calls for 1/2 cup Rice Krispies…perfect! I can finish this box up and use the newfound pantry space for a big bag of Cheetos, double win!

These bars were a cinch to make, you basically just dump a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, press in a greased pan and bake. Easy Peasy. I did adapt the recipe just a bit based on what I had on hand. The end result was great. Mine did not turn out quite as chewy as the original claimed (thus my removing ‘chewy’ from the title of these bars). There were still great. The flavor of the peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch was a winning combination and I found it rather addicting.
I easily ate 3-4 of these bars over about an hour by simply breaking peices off every time I went into the kitchen.  Next time I may not bake them quite as long to see if they will turn out a bit chewier, but I really did enjoy them crunchy. My only complaint was that they crumbled a bit when removing the edge peices. now worries, just  easier to shovel in my mouth.

These bars taste hearty yet sweet. I think these will be perfect to take on hikes, boating, sporting games. Pretty much anytime you need a sweet treat on the go this Spring and Summer. Don’t be afraid to mix and match ingredients to suit your family taste preferences. These would be great with almonds, cranberries and white chocolate or mini M&Ms and peanuts. Really, use your imagination!

I rate these an 8

Granola Bars
original recipe here

2 1/2 cups quick rolled Oats
1/2 cup Rice Krispies cereal (I used about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter (my addition)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup  butter, softened  (I used 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup butter)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with PAM.
In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients and stir until combined well. Press into pan.
Bake for 16–20 minutes or until golden.

Cool for at least 15-20 minutes. Cut into bars.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

I know the title alone makes you want one of these. I don’t blame you. This dessert takes two of my favorite sweets and combines them perfectly. This is an easy recipe to whip up but does create quite a few dishes and is multi-stepped. You need to make the crust, cheesecake filling and the cookie dough. You could use store bought cookie dough to save some time if you are in a pinch but really, if your making a crust and filling why not just whip up some dough as well (plus you can eat it raw since there are no eggs in it! BONUS!!).

I suggest using mini chocolate chips for the dough as it makes these bars easier to cut and eat, plus you get a little more chocolate in every bite! Yeah!

I whipped each component up  by hand but you could use a mixer if you want. I found with melted  butter and room temperature ingredients there was no need to lug out my stand mixer.

If you do make these I suggest making them a day before you need them. Like cheesecakes these get better with a day of rest. I highly recommend eating these chilled (as I do a cheesecake). They will be creamy and crumbly and just so satisfying that a small piece will do. Everyone at work loves these and these were the first to sell out at our bake sale. I think the name draws people in but the flavor kept them coming back for another!

I can’t wait to make these for easter using some pretty colored sprinkles and Holiday colored M&M’s on top. How irresistible will that be??

Before easter, I may make these again with some peanut butter cheesecake filling and peanut butter cookie dough. To top it off I think some chopped Reese’s PB cups on top would be phenomenal! If you try it, let me know!

I rate this recipe an 9

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
adapted from here

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 TBS butter, melted
1 TBS sugar
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

5 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 TBS sugar
1/8 tsp  salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325.
Grease a 8×8 pan with butter, line pan with parchment paper and butter the paper, leaving enough to extend over the sides.
Crush graham crackers into crumbs to make 1 & 1/2 cups. Add sugar and mix. Stir in butter and mix until crumbs are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.
Press crust mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

In a medium bowl stir together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract at medium  until smooth. Gently fold in flour. Mix just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir cream cheese until soft. Add sugar and stir until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract, stir just until blended.

Pour batter into cooled, baked crust. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls over the top of the filling. Sprinkle a few more mini chips over the top and gently press down (this makes it look pretty)

Bake about 30 minutes, or until set. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Place in the refrigerator to chill several hours.

Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart

This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s book packed full of wonderful dessert recipes.  This is not a dessert I would typically make because it is a bit labor intensive and time consuming. There are three components to the recipe, the tart shell, caramel layer and the chocolate ganache. Each component comes together fairly quickly and if you have experience making caramel this recipe will be a breeze for you.

This dessert is great for those who love a good Snickers bar, basically this is a Snickers in a tart form (minus the nougat). The tart dough was so good and is reason enough to make this recipe! Slightly sweet, great texture, just wonderful!

If, however, you are like me and would rather have a root canal than use a candy thermometer, this recipe can be a bit intimidating and nerve wracking. All in all in turned out well. I did have trouble with the caramel layer even though Dorie gives very clear directions. It was definitely not the recipe’s fault but baker-error that caused the issues.  My caramel layer turned out a bit thicker than I would have liked because I let it cook too long for fear of  it being too runny (this has happened to me in the past when I have tried making caramels).

Because my caramel layer was a bit thick, once I added the nuts to it it kind of clumped up into clusters making it VERY hard to spread evenly over the tart shell.
Next time I will A) not cook as long, B) may double the caramel layer and C) spread the caramel over the tart shell and then sprinkle the nuts on top since I think it would be hard to spread even if it was thinner just because the nuts liked to cling to the back of my spatula and dug into the shell. You can tell in the pictures the caramel layer is quite thin.

Despite the error, this turned out very well. I was fearful we would break a tooth (and thus requiring a root canal, the irony in that would not be lost on me) after it set up and chilled. We were surprised when we took our first bite and while the caramel was firm (ok, it was hard) it was not tooth-breaking hard. Yeah! Minor success!

This tasted great and we really enjoyed it. It is not something I will be whipping up again soon, but will be using the tart shell for some Berry Tarts this spring!

I rate this recipe an 8

Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
by Dorie Greenspan

For the tart shell:
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
For the caramel layer:
Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the ganache:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 4 oz bittersweet and 4oz semi sweet chocolate)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Directions:

To make the tart shell, in a small bowl stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla; set aside.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.  Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  When you are ready to roll out the dough, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured work surface.
Roll out with a floured rolling pin, lifting and turning the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.
Roll it out evenly until it is large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and is about 1/8-inch thick.
Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess.  Cover the dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads.  Bake for 5 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Remove the foil and baking beads and using a fork, gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust.  Bake until the crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.Before making the caramel, make sure that you have all the ingredients measured out and ready to go because you have to work quickly once the sugar caramelizes.  Also have a medium heatproof bowl at hand to hold the hot caramel.

To make the caramel, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, to medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 tablespoons of the sugar.
When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or a fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons.  When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
The sugar in the pan may already have started to color and that is fine.  Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color – it will probably begin to smoke, and that is normal.

Bring the simmering cream to a full boil.  Stand back from the skillet and stir in the butter and salt, if you’re using it.  The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so be careful.  When the butter is in, add the warm cream – the caramel will bubble furiously again.
Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 minutes.  (If you check the temperature with a thermometer, the caramel should be at 226 degrees F.)  Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set it aside while you make the ganache.

To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or rubber spatula at hand.  Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half of it over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.
Working with the whisk or spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles.  Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motion.
When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blend the ingredients – the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.

Cover the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the chocolate to create an airtight seal.  Set aside at room temperature for the moment.  To assemble the tart, stir the peanuts into the caramel using a rubber spatula.  If the caramel is too thick to stir or spread easily, gently warm it in the microwave in 3-second spurts.  (You can also hold the heatproof bowl about 10 inches above the burner on your range.  Check the consistency after a couple of seconds and repeat if necessary.)  Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell in a thin layer.  Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel.

Check the ganache.  If it has thickened and is no longer pourable, warm it in the same way as instructed for the caramel above.  Pour the ganache over the caramel and jiggle the tart pan to even it.  Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes but no longer, and then keep it at room temperature until serving time.

Butterscotch Bars with Brown Sugar Icing

I have had this recipe printed off for months but have been waiting for the perfect occasion to whip them up as they make a ton and I so do NOT need a sheet pan of sweets tempting me during the Holidays!

These bars (the original recipe calls them brownies, but really, these are a bar) would be the love child of a blondie and a sugar cookie bar (if baked goods could produce offspring). From the ingredieint list alone I knew I was in for a sweet and carmely treat!

Imagine a thick, soft and chewy brown sugar cookie toped with a buttery brown sugar caramel icing. Because these bars are made in a 15×18 baking pan they make the perfect treat when you need to feed a crowd.

Making the recipe as is, you will end up with an almost too-sweet dessert that will more than satisfy the strongest of sweet tooth cravings with only a small serving.

These bars are made up of a soft and chewy base with brown sugar undertones that would be a great bar on its own (maybe some butterscotch or chocolate chips thrown into the batter?) In fact, if you wanted to make these bars even easier, you could easily skip the icing step and could sprinkle butterscotch chips over the top of the warm bars right out of the oven and then spread them into a thin layer as they melt.

However, If you do opt for the icing on top be prepared for a trip to the dentist! There is 6 cups of combined sugar in the icing alone! I know it covers a lot of bars, but yowza! Personally, I feel the icing layer was a bit too thick considering the depth of its flavor and could be scaled down to ¾ the amount next time (I have given the original proportions below so if you want to make a smaller batch you can reduce amounts accordingly).
I personally found these bars a tad too sweet when made according to the recipe but fell in love with the deep, buttery, carmely flavor of both the bar and the icing. I think each component could be stand alone and may too much when paired together (whith the amount of icing called for in the recipe). Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy these bars, if I were to make them with the icing again I would use a much thinner layer and reserve some of the icing for another treat, such as to slather on cupcakes or served warm drizzled over apple pie! MMMMM.

I took these bars to work and my boss and a co-worker asked around for an hour trying to find out who brought them as they fell in love with them! You have to understand, my boss went on and on about how great these were and he never does that and is not a huge sweet fan to begin with! Maybe my sweet tooth is too sensitive this holiday season.

I rate this recipe an 8

The recipe is from here

Butterscotch Bars with Brown Sugar Icing
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Icing
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar (i sifted mine)
1/3 cup half and half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a half-sheet pan (13×18 inches) with aluminum foil and grease foil with butter or cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating for another minute.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the batter mixture on low speed until incorporated. Stir in the pecans.
Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake until the bars are set and slightly puffed, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool completely before icing.
When brownies are cool, spread icing evenly over the top. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to allow the icing to firm up before cutting into squares.

While the bars are cooling, make the icing:

Brown Sugar Icing: In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Once the mixture is lightly bubbling, decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 more minutes; set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the powdered sugar,  half-and-half and  vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.

Add the melted butter mixture and beat until combined.
Note: If you don’t own a half-sheet pan, you can bake the brownies in a 9×13-inch pan. Adjust the baking time and watch them carefully. You may have too much icing.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Brownies

July 009

This recipe caught my eye several weeks ago. I was searching for a dessert recipe to use up a can of Sweetened Condensed milk and was in the mood for somthing different than my usual Magic Cookie Bars. This reipce combines several of my favorite flavors: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Marshmallows. Another great thing about this recipe is that it uses a boxed cake mix keeping the ingredient list small.

While these were a breeze to whip up, it was a little time consuming. First you need to make and par bake the chocolate base. Next you need to make the filling, pour over the partially baked crust and then bake again. From start to finish these took about an hour for me, which on a hot summer day can feel like torture.

I also had a difficult time evenly spreading the sticky marshmallow/peanut butter filling over the crust. The filling was thick and way to hard to spread even with a buttered knife/spoon/spatula (maybe I was just having an off day). I ended up plopping spoonfulls of filling all over the crust and then with a greased knife did the best I could at trying make sure the crust was covered entirely. This worked well as the filling did thin and spread while baking.

The flavor of these bars made up for my frustrations while preparing them. They came out of the oven smelling faintly of peanut butter with bubbling marshmallow peeking through the chocolate topping just begging to be enjoyed. I waited about 30 minutes and then ate one warm. Don’t overbake as they are supposed to be a bit gooey when you take them out, they will firm up a bit as they cool.

The crust was sturdy but not hard, the filling had a subtly noticable peanut butter flavor and very similar to cheesecake in texture but gooier. Overall these were really great brownies and were enjoyed by all, even the non-peanut butter lovers (yes they do exist). While these brownies were yummy, they don’t beat out my favorite!

I did adapt this recipe a bit (based on my preferences and reviews) as reflected below and would recomend you do the same. Next time I will add some chopped Reese’s PB cups over the top of the brownies the last 10 minutes of baking to marry together the two flavors more fully.

I rate these brownies an 8

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 cup milk
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme (about 1-3/4 cups)
1/2 cup peanut butter chip
Directions
1Set oven to 350 degrees.
2Grease a 13″ x 9-inch baking pan.
3In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup condensed milk, butter, 1/4 cup milk, cake mix and the egg; mix to combine well (batter will be stiff).
4Press TWO-THIRDS of the batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan (using floured hands); pat down evenly, the layer will be thin.
5Bake for 10 minutes.
6Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup condensed milk and the marshmallow creme in a bowl; stir in the peanut butter chips/morsels.
7Remove the pan from the oven; spread the marshmallow mixture evenly over the brownie layer.
8Carefully drop the remaining batter by the spoonfuls over the marshmallow mixture.
9Bake for another 30 minutes.
10Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Peanut Butter Marshallow Brownies
adapted from here

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, divided (I used 1 whole can)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 cup milk
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (I used Triple Chocolate Cake Mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
(1 1/4 cups Creamy Peanut Butter)
1/2 cup peanut butter chip (I HIGHLY recommend Reese’s brand chips)
(1/4 cup Milk Chocolate Chips)
.
.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil and lighlty spray with PAM.
In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup condensed milk, butter, 1/4 cup milk, cake mix and the egg; mix to combine well (batter will be very stiff).
Gently press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking pan (using floured hands if needed); pat down evenly, the layer will be thin.July 011
Bake for 10 minutes.
.
While crust bakes, combine the remaining  condensed milk, marshmallow creme and Peanut Butter in a bowl; gently fold in the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.
Remove the crust from the oven; spread the peanut butter marshmallow mixture evenly over the brownie layer.
.
Carefully drop the remaining batter by the spoonfuls evenly over the peanut butter marshmallow mixture. Press down slightly.
.
Bake for another 25-30 minutes or until edges are set and center is slightly gooey but not raw. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream Bars

 

Once again I bring to you one of my favorite flavor combinations: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. You may remember one of my summer favorites from last year because they require NO baking (meaning, no heated kitchen in the hot summer months).
I found this recipe over at this blog and the description and pictures tempted me too much, I finally caved in and decided to give them a try. I am sure glad I did! I changed up the recipe a bit as reflected in the ingredients and recipe below. These bars are wonderful! They have a slight subtle caramel flavor thanks to all that butter and brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, which intensifies and deepens this flavor). The filling has a nice light peanut butter flavor without being too overpowering or sweet. Infact, I thought it would be sweeter than what it turned out, and was pleasantly surprised. The filling was is and provides a nice compliment to hte sweetness of the Milk choclate chips and Reese’s Candy bar pieces.
 
 Right out of the oven they are ooey, gooey and very good. You definately need a spoon to eat and scoop up every last drop of the filling from the dish! I did chill these until set and they are much easier to eat, I can’t decide which way I like them best, warm with melted chocolate and peanut butter all over my spoon and fingers (MMMM, I love to lick my fingers) or chilled and set making the filling seem almost fudge-like (only a bit softer). Either way these are sure to please any Peanut Butter and Chocolate lover, and with the oatmeal, these are almost a health food!
 
The down side is that I don’t think these will travel well or stand up to summer heat. They are great but messy, but heck, as complaints go, that is a minor one!
 
I rate these bars an 8.5
 
 
Oatmeal Bars
2 cups melted butter (starting out with melted butter… you KNOW they’re gonna be good!)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. soda
4 cups oatmeal
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cups mini choc. chips or mini m&m’s
Mix together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.
Set aside 3 cups. Press the rest into a greased 15×10 pan. Remember I made a half batch. I couldn’t decide what size pan would be half of a 10×15. That’s 150 square inches, so half would be something that’s 75 square inches. An 8×8 is 64, a 9×13 is 117. So I picked the 8×8. Maybe I need more baking pans. Or maybe they don’t even make 8×9 pans (72 sq in) or better yet, 7 x 10.5, that would be perfect. Um, let’s see, I forget, were we baking or having Math class? 
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Mix peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk. Spread over the baked crust. Pour/drizzle worked great. Yum, doesn’t that mixture look good?! It is. I licked the spatula afterwards.
 
Mix mini choc chips or m&m’s with the reserved crumbs. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Enlarged to show texture. And that creamy caramelly peanut buttery layer. These definitely do not fit the ‘Oatmeal Bar’ name. In a recipe that has peanut butter and M&Ms and oatmeal, WHO would pick out the oatmeal and name them THAT?! So, Peanut Butter Dream Bars they will be. They are, of course, irrestistably good. They’re a bit crumbly, for example, you wouldn’t want the kids to walk around in the house eating them. But then, who’d ever let their kids do that anyway. Thanks for the recipe, Michelle! It’s a keeper.
May 117
Once again I bring to you one of my favorite flavor combinations: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. You may remember one of my summer favorites from last year because they require NO baking (meaning, no heated kitchen in the hot summer months).
 
I found today’s recipe on a fellow blog and the description and pictures tempted me to the point that I finally caved in and decided to give them a try. I am sure glad I did! I changed up the recipe a bit as reflected in the ingredients and recipe below and in my opinion, they changes were a success. 

These bars are just wonderful! The crust and topping has a subtle caramel flavor thanks to all that butter and brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, which intensifies and deepens the caramel flavor). The filling has a nice light peanut butter flavor without being too overpowering or sweet, almost like creamy peanut butter fudge. Infact, I thought the filling would be sweeter than what it turned out, and was pleasantly surprised. The filling is smooth and creamy and compliments the sweetness of the Milk choclate chips and Reese’s Candy bar pieces that I added to the topping.

 
 Right out of the oven these bars are ooey, gooey and very good. You definately need a spoon to eat and scoop up every last drop of the filling from the dish! I did chill these until set and they are much easier to eat, I can’t decide which way I like them best; warm with melted chocolate and peanut butter all over my spoon and fingers (MMMM, I love to lick my fingers) or chilled and set making the filling seem almost fudge-like (only a bit softer). Either way these are sure to please any Peanut Butter and Chocolate lover, and with the oatmeal, these are almost a health food!
 
The down side is that I don’t think these will travel well or stand up to summer heat. They are great but messy, but heck, as complaints go, that is a minor one! Next time I might add more chopped Reese’s candy bars because I can’t get enough of those babies!
 
I rate these bars an 8.5
 
Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Dream Bars
adapted from here 
1 cup melted butter 
1 cup brown sugar (I used Dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups Quick Cooking oatmeal (NOT instant)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 King size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy bars, roughly chopped
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
 
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a 9×13 pan with tin foil and spray lighlty with PAM. 

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.

Set aside about 1 cup or a little more.
Press the rest of the crust into prepared pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. May 118
While crust is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk.
Once crust has baked, evenly pour and spread peanut butter filling over the baked crust.Be gentle so you don’t pull up the warm crust while you spread the filling.  
Evenly sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle the chopped candy bars and chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until topping is light golden brown and candy bars/chips are melting. 
Allow to cool to make cutting and serving easier.