We were away from home the past two days, spending time with Jeremy’s and Jason’s families for a mini-vacation. While we were gone, a former student of ours who has been living in northern China called to ask if he could come for dinner and stay with us tonight. We were very, very happy to be able to see him again, but since we would not be arriving home until almost dinnertime ourselves, we needed to come up with a super quick meal. Remembering that his favorite Western dinner had been spaghetti, the main dish was easy, and for dessert, we pulled out Chez Dexter’s standard last minute bar cookie recipe. We’ve been meaning to share this with you anyway since it has only six ingredients and takes just thirty minutes from inception to service.
Not only can you whip this up almost in the blink of an eye, but if you try hard enough you can kind of (sort of?) justify it as healthy. I mean, the health benefits of chocolate are almost endless, and nuts are good, right? Brown sugar, oatmeal…this is a veritable smorgasbord of all that is great for what ails you (kind of, sort of…)! And they don’t call these “Tasty Bars” for nothing!
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter (creamy works better)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Stir the first four together and press into a 9 x 13 pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes until set and golden.
Yes, this is our oven. (We are very fancy- we have two! The other one is bigger but since it only works on the top burner we don’t use it unless we’re desperate.) This one, as you see, is held together by a bungee cord!
While it’s baking, make the topping. Microwave your peanut butter in a bowl for about one minute until it’s very fluid.
Dump the chocolate chips into the hot peanut butter.
Are you starting to feel the love? Now stir vigorously until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. (If you really want to make a mess, go ahead and try zapping your chocolate chips and your peanut butter in the microwave at the same time. It might work- sometimes does. But after having a few bowls full of lusciousness turn into seized up lumps of burnt chocobutter, we’re sold on this less risky technique! If perchance (There’s something so satisfying about being able to stick the word “perchance” into a sentence, don’t ya think?) your chips don’t quite melt all the way, go ahead and give this a little zip zap for a few seconds, but be careful not to overdo it!)
We know at this point some of you are going to want to forget all about that healthy oatmeal base and just eat this with a spoon…
But try to resist…
Go ahead and dump the mixture onto your oatmeal base as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Spread it around.
If you’re going to have this ready in 30 minutes as we’ve promised, sock that puppy into the freezer for ten minutes! In our hot Guangzhou weather, we always stick it into either the fridge or the freezer to set the top.
Love on a plate!
Now what could be wrong with that?
Seriously, five minutes to mix the base; ten minutes to bake it while you prepare the topping; five minutes to spread that on; ten minutes to zap it in the freezer to set it! Six ingredients (all of which are likely staples in your kitchen), thirty minutes to prepare, then you have time to sit and talk with your family and guests as they enjoy the fruits of your labors! Refrigerate leftovers, if there are any….