Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oatmeal Ranger Bars

I love oatmeal. I have it nearly every morning with milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, and either chia or flax seeds. I've made many oatmeal cookies in my day, but wanted to experiment with a cookie bar that could serve equally well as a dessert (I first made these for a dinner party and served them with vanilla bean ice cream), a mid-afternoon snack, or something to keep you going on a hike. Instead of your typical oatmeal-raisin variety, I wanted to incorporate some of my favorite flavors - chocolate, coconut, and nuts - to create something reminiscent of a "ranger" bar - basically a cookie or bar that contains a lot of good stuff!

These were so good that our guests asked for my recipe and are making them for their own dinner party, so I figured I had to share this creation with others. They don't require a mixer and they also freeze very well - pop them in the freezer after you've cooked and cut them apart and they can either be reheated for a quick fix in the microwave (about 30 seconds) or thawed on the counter.

Oatmeal Ranger Bars
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. honey
2 eggs
1/4 c. lowfat milk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 c. regular whole wheat flour and 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour)
3 c. old fashioned (not quick) oats
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. walnuts, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 13x9x2 baking pan and line with parchment paper (the butter helps the parchment stick to the pan). 

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and honey. Whisk in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and whisk together. Then whisk in the salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Stir in the flour and oats with a wooden spoon, then add the chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges. Let cool in the pan, then lift out using the parchment paper and cut into bars.

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