Oatmeal Bars with Walnuts, Dark Chocolate and Caramel

SORRY FOR THE DELAY! School has begun, and things are really hectic, so to make it up to you – amazing oatmeal bars – I have been keeping squares of it in my backpack!

I was inspired by “turtle bars”, a delicious treat you can find in plenty of local bakeries around Cincinnati. Typically they are made with pecans, and milk chocolate, but I prefer them with walnuts and bittersweet chocolate.

This is easy to make and yields plenty! Depending on how you cut the quares you could get about 12 large rectangles, 24 bars, or 36 squares. I recommend cutting a square out, and tasting it – that will allow you to decide the appropriate treat size.

Oatmeal Bars – 36 squares
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously butter a glass dish, 9-by-13 inches, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Rub in the brown sugar, add the oats and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the melted butter, and stir together the entire mixture until it’s wet and combined.

Divide the mixture into 3 parts, spread 2 parts evenly into the bottom of the buttered glass baking dish, reserving the 3rd part for the topping. Bake for 10 minutes, and remove from oven to cool, leaving the oven on. Once the bottom has cooled sprinkle walnuts and chocolate evenly across.

Meanwhile, make the caramel in a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat melt the sugar and butter together. Bring the mixture to a boil, for about 1 minute, whisking together to make sure the butter is absorbed by the sugar. Turn off the heat, add the heavy cream while whisking to incorporate. Pour the caramel over the walnuts and chocolate, and use a spatula to evenly spread caramel. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture over the caramel and bake for 11 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the bars cool for about 30 minutes, then place the baking in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 hours, the dish should be thoroughly chilled and the bars should be firm. Remove from the refrigerator, and cut how you prefer. Serve with cold milk!

For leftovers, wrap and refrigerate bars in a sealed container for about 5 days.

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