Friday, August 05, 2016

The Cookie Crumbles: Oatmeal Cookie Bars

I wanted to bring a sweet treat to a family picnic last month, but was also in the mood to try a new recipe (well, new for me, at least). At the same time, it had to be something that would last through several hours of driving AND be able to stand out in the heat of Summer after the trip. This was no time for a multi-layer cake with a delicate buttercream frosting! A handheld treat would be ideal as well, to nibble unencumbered while strolling—or sitting—as the case might be. Then I remembered I'd been wanting to try an oatmeal cookie bar recipe, and this one seemed to fit the bill. I immediately doubled it, and was very glad I did:

Oatmeal Cookie Bar Layered with Jam

Oatmeal Cookie Bars

1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup very soft butter
10-12 oz. jam (I used a local triple-berry)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda and salt together with a fork until completely combined, making sure to break up any lumps. Add butter and continue to cut in with your fork, but switch to your hands towards the end to really work all the ingredients together and ensure the butter is evenly distributed (you don't need to be careful or have a "light" hand with this process). Evenly press about half to two-thirds of the mixture into your prepared pan, gently spread with jam to within 1/4 inch of the edges, and top with the remaining crumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden, being careful not to overbake or burn as the oats will turn bitter. Let cool completely, cut into squares and serve!

Notes: Adapted with many thanks from the recipe noted above. These bars are rich and buttery, with a slight punch of fruit from the jam for balance. My family members all agreed these would be excellent paired with ice cream, but it was far too hot to attempt to get any and bring it back before it/we melted. As well, the bars are deliciously crumbly, and forks were requested all round to help with the eating. Even so, there will still be plenty of crumbs left on your plate, and how you handle them is entirely up to you...


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