How do I know these one-bowl, hassle-free chocolate chip oat bars are idiot-proof? Please refer to the visual aid below…
I made them. Me. In my current mental and emotional state of nervous wretchedness. And I’ve even started referring to myself in the plural first-person. And writing in fragments. Like Yoda, I is. But I still managed to make these without starting a local apocalypse. So. That’s how I know.
Some days I almost wish that was a joke.
On the morning I baked these, I was not looking forward to baking. I had been in my brand spankin’ new apartment for exactly 2 weeks, gone through about 5 months’ worth of groceries and pantry items in that time to ‘fuel’ my studying brain, and had a mock exam for these coming up in 5 days. You could hardly find a less happy camper if you walked barefoot clear across the Alps in the middle of January looking for one. And the very last thing I wanted to do five days before my mock was trip into the precarious kitchen to bake instead of read about Romantic Irony, and to fuel my tummy pooch wayyy more than my noggin. And then the photographs. And then the editing. And then the inevitable snacking. Ugh.
But I had to make something as a thank-you for some friends who had helped me with moving, and so when I fumbled my way across Tieghan’s post from Half-Baked Harvest advertising that these bars were delicious AND idiot-proof (her phrase! Isn’t it such a hook?), I could almost hear the despair melting away like so many sunbathing snowmen.
And I have wonderful news: these bars are really, truly, honest-to-madness idiot-proof. They’re perfectly chewy, crumbly, oaty, chocolatey, cinnamony–and did I mention healthy?–all at the same time. Oil only, folks–no butter here! Did I mention that my friends could not stop eating them and positively raved about them after the pan had been licked crumb-clean? And all at no additional cost to my sanity. I love it.
Compared to making traditional bar cookies, these take zero thought and significantly less active time to throw together. Glutens? Don’t mind them. Overbaking? Not a chance. Even the dishes are easier to do after whipping a batch up, since the thick oat-y batter barely leaves a smidge on your mixing bowl! (And thankfully for me, this also meant I didn’t ‘have to’ lick the bowl afterwards, which saved me from another drastic snacking spree.) Yep, these were bars to feel good about when I had very else little about which I could feel good.
The good news is that today is the fifth day since I made these bars–and I can satisfactorily report that I took my first mock exam this afternoon! It was an extraordinarily nerve-wracking experience, but after we finished, it felt surprisingly reassuring to know I survived it…and with affirmation from someone who was not the second voice in my head, too. If you’ve ever read or listened to The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says that the lead-up to his qualifying exam was the second-most stressful period in his life. The first was leukemia. I can’t corroborate that last statement, thankfully, but I sure as heck cannot wait for this exam to be (hopefully successfully) done next month.
In the meantime, I’m going to make me some more of these bars. And hopefully offer some better proof that I’m not a complete idiot–yet…
Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
(Slightly adapted from Half-Baked Harvest)
- 2 1/2 cups oats, old-fashioned or quick-cooking (I used the latter and they worked fine)
- 2 cups flour (the original calls for 1 cup APF and 1 cup wheat flour; I used 2 cups APF)
- 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup canola oil OR coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, throw in ALL ingredients except the chocolate chips. Seriously. Just do it and mix away until a dough pulls together.
- Mix in your chocolate chips. Sha-bam! Done.
- Shove it all in your prepared pan. Like, evenly and stuff. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top if you feel like it, because you’re a grown-up and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise unless you’re not one, in which case pretend you are one while you’re making these. You can wear shocking red high-heels in the kitchen to facilitate this process.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until bars are lightly golden on top and they seem just slightly doughy–then pull them out and let them cool on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut these crumbly, chewy babies into squares, or just attack them with your fork. I did.
- Leave Ala a comment below to let her know that she doesn’t sound completely idiotic (yet). Enjoy!