When you were little, did you ever wish that you could "doctor" up your morning oatmeal? You know, toss in spoonful after spoonful of brown sugar, extra maple syrup, and some form of chocolate?
Bananas and strawberries are great, but even they can't mask the goopy, pasty, stick-in-your-throat consistency of oatmeal. Plus, everything is naturally better with brown sugar.
These are the kind of clunky, chunky, bars that you can enjoy while reading a good book. Speaking of books, I'm
My mom thinks I'm a pessimist. I say that I'm a realist. Books like The Secret, make me want to be an optimist.
I wish I could believe that by simply sending out positive energy into the universe, I could draw in positive events. But if that were true, than what about my lazy roommates, worry and doubt? Are they the only thing standing in the way of all the good stuff? I don't know. I kind of like these sloppy, lifelong companions. I can be so structured and organized...worry and doubt just kind of breeze in and throw things around, and they give me a healthy daily dose of sarcasm. :)
It's when things are going too well that I begin to panic.
As long as I have a few small things to pick apart, dissect, and over-analyze, I'm okay. For as annoying as my neutral, auto-pilot level of worry is, it's nothing compared to the destructive force that lies behind the "what if's" of my imagination.
I've always known that I'm my own worst enemy, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm using my propensity to over-think everything, thereby foreseeing potential mishaps and avoiding taking chances, as an excuse to keep all my dreams at a safe distance? Because my biggest fear, the thing that I detest the most because it goes against my drive toward perfection, is failure. If I don't try, I can't fail. But when you get down to it, isn't not trying the ultimate failure?
See, this is why I need to occasionally escape into the world of baking. Recipes are easy, and there are no lines to read between. What you see is what you get, even when the cake is lopsided and the crust shrinks.
Wanna hear more about these bars?
These are sweet, salty, chewy, chunky perfection. (And they don't even contain a drop of lemon or a chip of chocolate!)
Just in case you need some added incentive, the bars are made with brown butter! Yes, brown butter, that magical, nutty substance that elevates food to a whole other level. And because this is a simple, straight-forward recipe (no refrigeration!), you can have a batch ready in no time. Browning butter is easier than you think. Just don't over-analyze the directions and you will be fine. :)
Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars (recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and The Cook's Country Cookbook)
Makes about 20 bars
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 room temperature egg
for the glaze
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon cream (or water)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil; Lightly grease the foil.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt; Set aside.
Pour the butterscotch chips (3/4 cup) into a large heat-proof bowl.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it's melted, continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma. The butter will foam up at first, once it settles down keep a close eye on the colour...it can go from golden to dark brown in a matter of seconds. (Browning butter can take about 8-12 minutes. If this is your first attempt, try cooking it over a lower heat setting, it will take longer, but you will have more control.)
As soon as the butter is golden brown, pour it over the butterscotch chips. Using a whisk, make small concentric circles, mixing until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the brown sugar and vanilla; whisk until well combined. Add the egg and whisk until everything is smooth and incorporated. Add the flour-oatmeal mixture and, using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir just until the streaks of flour have disappeared. You will be left with a large, cohesive, clump of dough.
Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes up with only a few moist crumbs. Prepare the glaze as soon as the bars are out of the oven.
For the glaze: In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine the butterscotch chips, brown sugar, maple syrup, cream and salt. Microwave for about 1 minute (on 50% power). Remove and whisk to combine. If the mixture is still lumpy, microwave it for a few more seconds. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the hot glaze over the warm bars. Allow the bars and glaze to come to room temperature before removing from the pan and slicing into squares.