This Sunday, I had to provide treats for 120 people. It would have been easier (and after looking at the grocery receipt, possibly cheaper) to buy something pre-made from the grocery store bakery. By the third tray of bars, that option was starting to sound somewhat appealing. But with a thick layer of gooey fudge sandwiched by chewy oatmeal crusts, my mom's Fudge Oatmeal Bars taste far better than anything I've ever had from an industrial-scale bakery. Besides that, these bars are just plain fun to make: smooshing the bottom crust into the pan, melting chocolate, and flattening dough with your hands and piecing together a top crust jigsaw puzzle style. And of course, you get to the lick the bowl, something they never let you do at the grocery store. Although Fudge Oatmeal Bars may not be the quickest bar to make or the prettiest dessert to grace the church basement buffet table, they'll probably be the most delicious.
Yield: 40 approximately 2 inch by 2 inch bars
- 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
- 2 cups tightly packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
- 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons margarine, softened and cut into several pieces
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine 1 cup margarine, brown sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Mix until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in oatmeal and mix until well combined.
Flatten half of crust dough into a 10 x 15 inch pan lined with parchment paper or greased. My preferred method is to distribute lumps of dough on the pan, cover with a piece of wax paper that is slightly larger than the pan, smoosh the dough with my hands until it evenly covers the entire pan, and then peel away the wax paper to reveal a perfect crust.
Melt chocolate chips. Stir in 2 tablespoons margarine, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Pour filling over the bottom crust and spread evenly.
Using the remaining half of the crust dough, take a golf ball-sized piece of dough and flatten it between your hands. Place piece of flattened dough on top of filling. Continue in this manner, using smaller pieces of flattened dough to fill in the gaps between the larger pieces, until the filling is completely covered.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until top crust is lightly browned.
Allow bars to completely cool before cutting, and store the bars tightly covered in the refrigerator.