Smitten Kitchen’s bake sale winning-est gooey oat bars

Makes 24 to 36 bars

Regardless of whether the prospect of a bake sale strikes dread in your heart or whether you delight in any and all excuses to bake for good causes, consider this recipe a one-page manual for how to win at them. I don’t mean to infer that bake sales are competitions—who said that? Not me! — I just mean that if we’re going to break out the eggs and chocolate chips for a good cause, we might as well make the kind of treats that yield dozens, tastes like brown butter and caramel and oats and coconut (like an old-school Magic Bar, but possibly even more delicious) and that’s also liable to sell out first. Take it from the person who once spent hours she didn’t necessarily have one night making from-scratch apple hand pies in little squares that were quite brown, at and utterly devoid of frosting, sprinkles, gooey chocolate and other things that reliably make people swoon and were thus left orphaned at the end of the sale: these are so so much better. For everyone.

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Ingredients

non-stick Cooking spray
1 3/4 cups (230g)
all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp
fine sea salt, or table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (200g)
cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup (65g)
granulated sugar

Filling

1/2 cup (115g)
unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100g)
granulated sugar
3/4 cup (145g)
1/4 tsp
fine sea salt, or table salt
3
large eggs
1 1/2 tsp
1 1/3 cups (105g)
rolled oats
1/2 cup
finely shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened (optional)
1 1/2 cups
chocolate chips, chopped white or dark chocolate, candy bars, dried fruit, or a mix thereof (with the dried fruit, a mix with chocolate is best or the sweetness of the fruit will be overwhelming)
icing sugar, to finish

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking tray (a quarter sheet pan or cake pan is fine) with parchment paper (if using a cake pan, hang the parchment over the sides so the bars are easier to remove). Lightly coat the sides with nonstick spray.
  • Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps—that’s right, just keep running it; it might take another 30 seconds for it to come together, but it will. Transfer the dough clumps to the prepared baking pan and press them evenly across the bottom and 1/4 inch up the sides. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until very pale golden.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, stirring frequently, until golden brown bits form at the bottom, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars and salt. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and stir in the oats, coconut (if using), and chocolate, fruit, and/or candy.
  • Pour over the parbaked crust, spreading evenly.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is firm and golden and the bars are set or, at most, barely jiggle if shimmied. The bars are much easier to cut cleanly from the fridge, but they are gooiest when warm. Dust with powdered sugar before serving or selling for the prettiest finish.

Do Ahead: Store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for longer.

Nutrition

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Photo credit: Photographs copyright © 2017 Deb Perelman.

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