Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oatmeal Bars: The Lazy Mom's Cookie

I almost hate to admit this, but I'm not a big fan of chocolate desserts.  This may be considered a character flaw by some, but I was grateful when my family's brownie phase was over.  When interest in chocolate desserts seemed to be waning, I used the opportunity to reintroduce my family to the oatmeal cookie.  My girls have always liked oatmeal cookies, but I didn't make them that often.   The last time my mother came to visit, I got her to make several batches of oatmeal cookies and I stashed them in the freezer so we could enjoy cookies long after she'd gone home.  I later realized that this created a demand for oatmeal cookies that I wasn't prepared for.
The last of my mother's oatmeal cookies, 2011.

I'm not much of a baker, which is to say that I don't especially like to bake.  As my Grandma Willie used to say, "I CAN bake, but I CHOOSE not to."  Of course, my Grandma Willie was an amazing baker and never said this about baking (just about other things she didn't like to do).  My grandmother regularly made dozens of cookies that were all exactly the same size and all at the perfect stage of doneness.  My mother also possesses this skill, but I most certainly do not.  I get irritated just thinking about monitoring batch after batch of cookies in the oven.  I have enough trouble monitoring two rambunctious little girls.

Because of my hatred for baking cookies, I have become a devoted fan of THE BAR.  For me, the only good thing about brownies is the fact that you make them in a 9x13 pan and cut them into bars.  I've been working on a number of kinds of bars that fill the cookie niche without the extra work of actually making cookies and this one is the biggest hit so far.
The Busy Mom's Oatmeal Bar, 2011.

The Busy Mom's Oatmeal Bar

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground if you can manage it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins or craisins
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and gently mix until combined.
  • Take out beater and remove bowl from mixing stand.  Add oatmeal and raisins (or craisins) and stir gently with spatula.
  • Place in greased 9x13 metal baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Be careful not to overbake.  This is the death of the oatmeal bar (or cookie) as far as I'm concerned.