Monday, April 25, 2011

Best Shared: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Fudgie Bars

The memory is incredibly vivid.  I am at Friendly's, after my first seventh grade dance.  I am going to a sleepover party at a girl's house afterwards, which is the only reason I am here; I would never have been invited to a mixed-gender gathering with the boys who are with us.  Part of me isn't sure why I was invited to the sleepover party, either, because the girl who is hosting isn't very friendly towards me.  Maybe her mother made her invite me?  Everyone around me is chatting and laughing and making jokes, but my nose is buried in the menu.  I'm trying to figure out what I should order with the five dollars my mom had given me (this is a small fortune in my world), and I'm trying to blend in to the booth so that no one will notice that I am here.  I want to be here, among these incredibly cool people, and pretend, for once, that I'm like them, too, but I am also desperately afraid that someone will suddenly realize that I'm in the wrong place

I order a Reeses Pieces sundae.  It comes, and it's enormous, but it's a good way to hide and keep my mouth shut, ignoring the laughter and joking around me.  I turn inward, and slowly, methodically, I eat the whole thing.  I don't remember the car ride back, but I do remember feeling incredibly sick, all night long, in that girl's house, where the air was thick with her mother's cigarette smoke.  It was all just too much.

For some people, Reeses Pieces are forever associated with E.T.; for me, even now, I can't eat Reeses Pieces without thinking about that sundae, and that dance, and the seventh grade year, and the childhood loneliness that I hated so much.

But I love chocolate and peanut butter.  I can eat it from a spoon or a chopstick.  And luckily, I am no longer trying to fit into that crowd.  What I know now is that things like enormous Reeses Pieces sundaes are best shared, and that we're all, in some small way, the person hiding behind the menu and the sundae.

Make these for someone you love, or for someone you've just met and want to get to know better.

(And tell us: what are the taste-triggered memories that still return to you today?)

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Fudgie Bars

1/2 c. + 2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate chips
2/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 t. vanilla extract
Reese's pieces, for the topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 1/2 cup of the butter with the sugar until well-combined. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredient (flour through oats), and mix at low speed until just combined.

Press two-thirds of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of the pan, and set aside the rest for the topping.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, condensed milk, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. Cook over medium heat until the chocolate and butter are melted, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Spread most of the chocolate fudge mixture over the oatmeal layer, using a spatula to spread evenly. Save the remainder for hot fudge sauce, or use it all for a thicker layer.

Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over the fudge, then sprinkle with the candy.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until the topping is starting to brown. They won't seem cooked all the way through yet at this point. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours to set completely. Cut into squares and serve, or store at room temperature.
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  1. Uhhh, YUMM! Perfect addition.

  2. That first paragraph sounds like most of my middle school/high school. What a relief when college came with real friends.

  3. @N: I really should credit you here ... and was going to send some, but remembered the nut allergy. I bet Sunbutter would work, though, if you can eat that, and maybe MnMs? :)

  4. hot dogs. they were the american food of choice that my dad always made for my visiting friends who wouldn't eat our "weird" food. they've since become a guilty favorite of mine, but for years hot dogs were always a reminder of being an "other" in a world of white bread & bologna.

  5. Oh, junior high. Some of the most despised years of my life! I wish so much I could prevent my little girl from ever experiencing them...

    Those look amazing!!! Happy ICLW!

  6. I'm pretty sure that I love you. I have been on a major chocolate (or Nutella) and peanut butter kick for a few weeks now. I think it has something to do with the unending Cleveland cold. I am going to make these this week, without a doubt.

  7. YUM YUM YUM... love that recipe :)) xoxo

  8. OMG those look absolutely amazing!!! I completely relate to the trying to blend into the background faze of middle/high school...a time I would never want to return to!

  9. That recipe sounds really good! I always like reading recipes. Mom used to make this Tortellini soup on Christmas eve. It became a tridition in our family for a few years. I live on my own now, and I try to have the soup every year around the holidays. Stopping by from ICLW.

  10. OMG that recipe sounds amazing. I'm going to have to try it out. ICLW#32

  11. Those look DELISH! I would be worried I would eat the whole batch! Thanks for the recipe :)

    ICLW :)

  12. Delicious! For some reason eating spinach takes me back to when I was a child and used to pretent that I was in some kind of post-apocalyptic war (Mad Max) and grass type food was my only source of food. I had an active imagination and enjoyed playing by myself because my sister was 10 years younger.

  13. Hello from ICLW! O. M. G. I'm in love with this recipe already....what gorgeousness! Let's see.....Enchiladas and refried beans take me right back home to Mom's house. Even the smell triggers that feeling. :)

    ICLW #71

  14. Peanuts are actually the only nut I am not allergic to. Amazingly.

  15. Oh holy crap that looks awesome.

  16. Those look amazing. I think I"m going to make some for my dad for his bday. He has a major thing for chocolate and peanut butter!

    As always, your pre-recipe story was beautiful. It actually brought tears to my eyes...I think that so many of us can relate to that lonely little girl that you once were.

  17. Those look delicious. I liked reading about your memory from your childhood, too. :) Happy ICLW!


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