Fudgy Oatmeal Bars

Fudgy Oatmeal Bars

I am in the throws of the “December chaos,” I like to call it.  There is always so much I want to accomplish in December, and so very little time to get it all done.  This year I am getting a little smarter, and will actually take a couple of days off from work – just to be home by myself – and be ridiculously productive.  Between work, kid stuff and holiday stuff – I am completely maxed out.

Last week I was involved in a 2-day offsite at work.  I will admit, it is not easy stepping away from the my day job for two days – it is not like works stops around you.  You just sign up for working a lot at night.  The ironic part was that during this offsite, we had some folks at the Energy Project work with us for a half-day.  It was definitely sobering.  I know that sleep is incredibly important – in fact, nothing they told me was a surprise – but it really got me thinking.  I am already so productive during the day…what if I actually got 7-8 hours of sleep every night?  Would I become unstoppable?  Would I actually accomplish more so I had more time to rest?  Who really knows, but I am going to try hard to figure it out.  The problem is that I am not willing to cut out baking/cooking to reach that goal.

Everyone has their “thing.”  I know that when you don’t sleep a lot, you need to get your energy from another source.  Many people that don’t get a lot of sleep are overweight – they replace building energy from sleep with eating – which is another way to drive energy.  I actually don’t do that (or maybe I do, but I also love to exercise, so it cancels out the food…), but believe it or not, I get energy from baking.  Cooking not as much, but definitely baking.  I often get so much energy from baking, that I have no desire to really eat what I made.  Of course I will take a bite to try it, but I am certainly not baking to eat.  I am an enigma.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light – in a section where they were focusing on healthy snacks.  Now, I hardly think that these should be classified as healthy, but I guess everything is relative.  These had a wonderful oat crust, and the filling was chocolate heaven.  They were not too sweet, but definitely rich, so a small square is all you need for those mid-afternoon chocolate cravings.  So even if you didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, no need to worry – these will definitely give you the energy you need – but seriously, shouldn’t we have our fudgy oatmeal bars and eat them too?  Don’t skimp on the sleep.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Baking spray with flour

Filling:

  • 3.4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through baking soda) in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup canola oil and 2 tablespoons butter; toss with a fork until crumbly. Remove 3/4 cup of oat mixture; set aside. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.

To prepare filling, weigh or lightly spoon 3.4 ounces flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine milk and espresso granules in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until espresso dissolves. Add 3 tablespoons canola oil, 3 tablespoons butter, vanilla, and eggs to milk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring to combine. Fold in chocolate.

Spread batter over prepared crust in pan. Sprinkle with reserved 3/4 cup oat mixture. Bake at 350° for 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut into 28 bars.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Fudgy Oatmeal Bars

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