Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal-Walnut Bars

I had a busy weekend in the kitchen. Friday, I made Three-Alarm Chili and Saturday I baked an apple pie for a contest. While the pie was in the oven, I made Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal-Walnut Bars for the Master Gardener Annual Picnic. I love attending the picnic, not just because it’s fun to hang out with a lot of expert gardeners, but because they have a plant swap. I always come home with some interesting stuff.

The picnic is potluck. Since I love to bake and the Master Gardeners don’t mind if I experiment on them, I usually try out new recipes. This is one fromCooking Pleasures. Somehow I ended up with a membership in the Cooking Club of America. I refused to send them the fees they demanded, but they still send me their magazine, newsletter and allow me to use their site.

I made one error with this recipe. I bought mini chips instead of the regular sized ones. I think that it does make a difference. "A" remarked when she tried them that the ratio of nuts to chocolate seemed off. I agree but I think bigger chips would have evened things out.

The recipe calls for toasting the nuts on a baking sheet in the oven. It seems like a waste to use the oven for such a small amount of nuts so I used my toaster oven. This is a very stiff batter. Spreading it evenly in the pan requires time and upper body strength. The batter baked up with no problem. Cutting the bars could be difficult thanks to the nuts. In cases like this, I use a pizza cutter. It slices easily through nuts and (large) chocolate chips and makes it very easy to cut in straight lines.

This recipe is billed as “Whole wheat flour and oatmeal add whole-grain goodness to chewy chocolate chip bars.” Perhaps. I found the whole wheat flour made them very heavy. If I made these again, I would use my usual unbleached flour.

Verdict: Not bad, but I don’t think I’ll be making these again.

Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal-Walnut Bars
(source: Cooking Pleasures)

1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash salt
1 (12-oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts, toasted*

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until soft and smooth. Beat in brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in medium bow.

Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until well-blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Spoon and spread dough in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown; cool on wire rack.

*To toast nuts, place on baking sheet; bake at 375°F. for 4 to 6 minutes or until pale brown and fragrant. Cool.

Makes 32 bars.

Recycle: vanilla extract bottle

Compost: eggshells

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