For Bottom and Top crust:
4 cups Old-Fashioned Oats (see notes)*
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
14 ounces (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
For The Filling:
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional (see notes)*
1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
2). Spray bottom and sides of 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
3). In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in melted butter; mix well. Reserve 1/2 mixture for top crust of bars. Press remaining 1/2 mixture firmly into an even layer on bottom of prepared pan.
4). To prepare the filling, melt the chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler over low heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract; add chopped nuts (optional). Mix well.
In a large microwave safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and sweetened condensed milk on HIGH (100% power) for 1 minute, stir. Microwave at additional 10-20 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla extract. Mix in nuts, if using (optional).
5). Spread the filling evenly over the crust in the baking pan. Place the remaining crust mixture on top of the filling ("this part can be a little bit tricky, so be patient").
6). Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Cool bars in baking pan on a wire rack before cutting into large or small bars (2 - 3 inches in diameter in size).
*Notes: Bars may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature.
If desired, substitute approximately 1 cup chopped pecans or 1 cup flaked coconut for the walnuts.
You may substitute "quick cooking" oats for the old-fashioned oats in this recipe.
Makes 24-36 bars.
Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2003
Date: March 30, 2003