Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

February 14, 2012

butterscotch oatmeal bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

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 & some form of chocolate?

Bananas and strawberries are magnificent, but even they cannot always mask the goopy, pasty, stick-in-your-throat consistency of oatmeal. Plus, everything is naturally better with brown sugar.

These are the sort of clunky, chunky bars that you can enjoy whilst reading a good book. Speaking of books, I'm impatiently waiting for my copy of Catching Fire (The Hunger Games sequel) to arrive. In the meantime, I'm trying to find something to fill the void.

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 & 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 + 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.

butterscotch oatmeal bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

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.

Would you like to hear more about these bars?

butterscotch oatmeal bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

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.


  1. Like you, I am a realist and my own worst enemy is myself...

    Those bars are great! Exactly the kind of treat I love.



  2. They look delicious!

    I didn't like the sequels nearly as much as the Hunger Games, but they're worth the read.

  3. I suffer from the same tendency to over-think everything. If you ever learn learn how to turn your brain off from time to time, please let me know! But I've taken it in a different direction - if I'm not failing, I don't think I'm trying hard enough. Don't ask me how many times I've failed. (We authors can actually count our rejection letters. Great fun.)

  4. Beth, I never thought of looking at it that way. Thank you.
    (And if I figure things out, I'll let you know.) :)

  5. I'm an underthinker--I just like to dive in and think about it later. Of course, this has caused me no end of problems.... These look fabulous though--I love gloopy oatmeal in a bowl and baked into fabulousness with browned butter.

  6. terriblement gourmand et croquant
    Je te souhaite un bon mercredi

  7. I'm dying to read Hunger Games! I'm finishing up Secret Kept right now though, and I'm already wishing I was finished and could move on!

  8. These bars look & sound amazing! I will let you know when I try them.

    I'm reading a fun series by Alan Bradley about an 11 year-old sleuth in England called Flavia de Luce: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_7?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=alan+bradley+flavia+de+luce+series&sprefix=alan+br%2Cstripbooks%2C390

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Hi Susan,
    Thanks for the book recommendation! :)

  10. Oh help me...I love butterscotch! These look amazing!

  11. I'm a realist too, sometimes annoyingly so. Doesn't mean I don't dream like crazy though.

    Those bars look good, I have some oats that I need to use up anyway :)

  12. I tripled the recipe for two 9x13 pans...Amazing!! Will be making these again and again. Love how the butterscotch is melted throughout the dough and wonder if this technique would work for cookies as well?

  13. Hi Teresa,
    Great idea to triple this recipe! Mine were gone all too fast. :D
    I think that melted butterscotch chips would be wonderful in cookies, but the amount of butter would need to be scaled back slightly...so maybe if a recipe calls for 8 Tbsp. of butter, only use 6.

    Thanks for letting me know how these bars turned out!

  14. I made these bars after buying a bag of butterscotch chips on a whim. The browned butter with the butterscotch? Delicious. Combined with the chewiness of the oatmeal? Amazing.

  15. Hi Sarah, I'm so glad to hear that you liked these buttery bars! (Sometimes we buy The best things on a whim.) :D


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


une gamine dans la cuisine © All rights reserved · Theme by Blog Milk · Blogger