Sunday, September 28, 2014

Butterscotch Oat Bars with PB Fudge (No-Bake)

It's an in-between time for most of us right now.

In the western world, people are revving up their ovens for a season of pumpkin and apple pies. Reach to the back of your cupboard and dig up those little jars of ground clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. They're a year old now. It's time to replace them.

You probably have a couple of weeks left before outside temperatures get cool enough to warrant a long hot oven.

Over on the eastern side, Spring is in the air and the taste of Summer is very sweet. My oven works 365 days a year so a hot Summer day isn't convincing enough to push my chocolate cravings aside and won't stop me from making these brownies. But, every once in a while a care-free no bake dessert feels laid back and fancy-free.

This is a really easy dessert, or even breakfast or snack bar that is great to eat straight from the fridge. 

Although there's plenty of butter and a bit of sugar, there's also tonnes of oats and peanut butter. I'm thinking sustainable and delicious snacking.

A boiled blend of butter and brown sugar forms the butterscotch that binds the bars together. Cook the butter and sugar until it looks syrupy and smells incredible. This builds on the nutty butterscotch flavours.

The problem with a lot of no-bake bars is that they don't always hold together and leave you with a bunch of sad crumbs.

That won't happen today. Promise.

Why not? Because of a powerful humble egg, full of super strong binding protein.

Let the butterscotchy mixture cool before whisking in the egg. Remember, the egg will only help bind if it blends in smoothly. Scrambled eggs should be served with bacon, so let's keep it that way.

The oats go into this buttery mixture and get coated all around.

We go back over a very low heat and stir the oat mixture constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. This will dry out the mixture and help tighten it up by gently cooking the egg. You'll know it's ready when it begins to roll up in a bowl as you stir and starts to leave a film along the bottom and sides of the pan. Press most of this mixture firmly into an 8-inch baking pan.

The best part - a thick layer of chocolate peanut butter fudge. Expect no less.

This is the type of fudge that's not full of science, thermometers and heaps of sugar (although that kind of fudge is the bomb).
This fudge has just two ingredients, and if you haven't guessed already, they are chocolate and peanut butter. Melt it and spread it. DONE.

The rest of the oat mixture crumbles over the top and then it's off to the fridge to set.

Your oven can thank me for the holiday it gets this week. A good rest will serve it well because we all know what's to come of the months ahead. Baking season baby!

Butterscotch Oat Bars with PB Fudge
Makes 16 bars

½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
½ cup (110 g) packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups (330 g) quick cooking oats
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) smooth peanut butter

Combine butter and brown sugar in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool for 3 minutes. Whisk in vanilla and egg until smooth. Add oats, and mix until combined. Cook over low heat while stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. When ready, the mixture will appear dry, forms a ball and leaves a film over the bottom of the pan.

Press ¾ of the oat mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan lined with baking paper. Combine chocolate and peanut butter in a small saucepan over very low heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Pour this over the oat layer in the pan and then crumble remaining oat mix over top.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then cut the bars and eat up!

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