This week's recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie is Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars, and I was pretty excited to try the recipe, since I've never met an oat that I didn't like, and as much as I love baked goods, my real weakness is candy. Not only that, January is National Oatmeal Month, so this recipe, which uses a whopping 3 cups of oats, is a fitting way to celebrate. There's so much going on in these bars, they're like a party unto themselves!
- The recipe calls for salted peanuts in both the oatmeal layer and the chocolate layer. I didn't have peanuts (and truth be told, I don't love chocolate + peanuts) but I did have salted cashews in the nut drawer. As it turned out, I only had enough cashews for the oatmeal layer, so I left my chocolate layer nutless.
- The recipe calls for plump raisins. I used plump dried cherries instead and chopped them in small pieces.
- For the chocolate layer, I had some previously-melted bittersweet chocolate (that I didn't use for the Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake), which I combined with some milk chocolate and some semisweet chocolate. I was worried that the fudge might be too light and sweet, and wondered if I should have used all dark chocolate, but in the end I liked the balance of chocolate flavors.
- I trimmed the edges, then cut the bars into 48 squares (although Dorie cuts 36 bars). The bars are very dense and rich, so I thought mine were perfect for one serving. Plus, they were small enough that you wouldn't feel like a total glutton if you had to sneak back for a second bar. Just in case that happened to you.
These bars are chewy, fudgy, oatmeal-y, with fruity notes from the cherries. They reminded me a bit of a chocolate/oatmeal pb&j, if you can imagine such a thing. I'm glad I didn't put the nuts in with the chocolate; the fudge layer made a nice contrast with the crust. But I wouldn't say candy-bar like; the large quantity of oatmeal keeps them squarely in the bar-cookie department.
I served the bars at our book group meeting last week, and they proved to be popular with nearly everyone. Here are some of the comments:
"I like them because they're not too sweet."
"These are different. I like that."
"They're kind of like raspberry bars, but with chocolate" (and once I heard that, I realized that I've tasted similar raspberry bars).
"Can we get the recipe for these?"
"Do you mind if I keep a few for my children?"
I had nearly 3 dozen bars left over, and they are packed up snugly in my freezer for a future occasion, so I'm not likely to have to bake this recipe again anytime soon. But if you would like to try these bars, you can find the recipe by clicking over to Lillian's blog, Confectiona’s Realm, or on pages 114 and 115 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.