These are simple bars for a simple treat. A no-muss, no-fuss kind of thing. Easy to whip up, easily transportable (trust me on that one, I brought them to California), and even easier to eat!
The chocolate layer really shines, especially with the help of just a smidge of espresso powder. I'd especially recommend these if you're a beginning baker or don't feel like doing anything too complicated in the kitchen. A lot of payoff for relatively little effort! I made these for my father-in-law's birthday and wound up sharing them with a large chunk of my husband's family, many of whom I had just met. Brownie points!
Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
Makes ~25 bars
Crust & Topping:
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp instant espresso or instant coffee
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large egg
1. For the crust and topping: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil with nonstick baking spray.
2. Whisk the oats, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter until combined. Reserve 3/4 cup of the oat mixture for the topping.
3. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until light golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.
4. For the filling: Whisk the flour, sugar, instant espresso, and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
5. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325F. Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the reserved oat topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the filling begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
6. Set on a wire rack and let the bars cool completely in the pan, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, cut into squares, and serve.