Oatmeal Bars with M&Ms

oatmeal mm barsOur kitchen remodel begins in 15 days. This weekend, in an effort to clear out our cabinets, I baked zucchini bread, chocolate chip pumpkin bread, brownies, and these oatmeal bars with miniature M&Ms.

Fun fact about this recipe: it was originally written for cookies, as a “make it mine” recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens Baking book. Wanting to save a bit of time, I decided to bake my adapted recipe, which uses peanut butter as part of the fat content and miniature M&Ms as the stir-in ingredient, as bars. Some cookies convert easily, but if you’re not experienced with this, check out this very useful post from King Arthur Baking for tips on how to figure out the right size pan and baking time.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups M&Ms miniature baking pieces

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil and spray lightly with baking spray. Note: next time, I might not spray the foil and see what happens; the bottom of the bars were softer than I expected and I suspect the baking spray is the reason why.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat, then beat in flour and oats. Stir in miniature M&Ms.

Press dough into prepared baking pan and bake for 25-28 minutes, until top is light golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center  comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then lift the foil out and cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars; store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 24.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

oatmealccbarsSometimes I wonder who invented bar-style cookies. A woman without a lot of time of her hands, perhaps? Bars are a great options for picnics and potlucks, offering all of the deliciousness of cookies with much less baking time. Convenient and tasty…always a good combination.

These oatmeal chocolate chip bars came from Buns in My Oven, another baking blog that I found while looking for fun, easy-to-bake bar recipes. I really like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and these bars are very similar, though I think the next time I make them I’ll add a dash of cinnamon to the dough to kick up the flavor a bit.

I highly suggest warming these up and serving them with vanilla ice cream, or perhaps spreading on some peanut butter, if you’re looking for serving suggestions. You could also just eat them standing up at your sink in the middle of the night. Who am I to judge?

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick spray.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, eggs, and melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until combined. Dough will be very thick, so you’ll want to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure you get all of your dry ingredients incorporated.

Stir in chocolate chips, then pour dough into prepared pan, spreading it out as best you can.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Bars will look slightly underdone, but that’s what you want – be careful not to over-bake.

Allow to cool for 1 hour, then cut into squares.

 

Caramel Oatmeal Bars (version one)

I can think of few better things to do on a snowy afternoon when Mike is working an event at the Aviary than try a new recipe.  This one, though, will need some improvements; baked according to the recipe, it’s not quite what I had hoped it would be.

In order to find caramel oatmeal bar nirvana, I can certainly try different recipes; were I to improve upon this one, I’d make the bottom crust slightly thicker, increase the volume of the chocolate chips to one cup and perhaps switch to milk chocolate, and try pecans instead of walnuts.  I might also decrease baking time by five minutes or so to see how everything holds up.  Stay tuned for Caramel Oatmeal Bars, version two, in the coming weeks!

Ingredients

  • 1-14 oz. bag Kraft caramels
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9×13 glass baking dish with foil.

Melt butter in the microwave; this can be done while you’re preparing the crust.

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a very large bowl.

Add melted butter and stir together until well-moistened, using your hands if necessary.

Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt caramels and heavy cream in a medium saucepan on low to medium heat, stirring very frequently until smooth.

Remove crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts, then pour in the caramel, using a spatula to spread it out and into the corners.

Press the remaining crust mixture on top.

Bake for 25 minutes; cool in baking dish on a wire rack.

Wait until bars are completely cool before cutting.