Oatmeal Cream Pie Bars
I have a love-hate relationship with oatmeal cookies. I love the flavor but hate the dryness that so often goes hand-in-hand with the hearty, oaty dough. Enter, sweetened condensed milk — a semi-sacrilegious version of milk that makes for super-decadent baked goods. These bars are moist and rich, yet have all the delicious flavor of an old-fashioned oatmeal cookie.
Growing up, my mom always made homemade baked goods, but still, my sister and I — young and foolish as we were…are… — would beg for the occasional box of Little Debbie “baked bads.” My favorites: the zebra cake and the oatmeal creme pie. These bars are loosely inspired by the flavor of the latter.
A semi-key player in these cinnamon-ey, oatmeal-ey treats are a rather rare find: Pumpkin spice morsels (#basic). Fear not, though, these unicorns are not critical features of this recipe; feel free to sub-in cinnamon chips or white-chocolate morsels! I also put raisins in, since I think that any good oatmeal cookie must have raisins, but, if you’re like my friend, Michelle, and shun all dried fruits, just skip them!
One more thing you need to know about me: I love my stand-mixer. Seriously. It’s my first child. Though I learned to bake the old-fashioned way — with a whisk and an abacus — and still choose to do so sometimes, I swear by the stand mixer #KitchenAided. Nothing creams together butter and sugar like my paddle attachment!
Two final notes:
you can use a 9″ x 13″ dish, if you have one, but I happen to have only an 8″ x 11″ dish. Certainly not a standard size — not even standard for a sheet of paper! — I think my mom got it on sale. Just use what you have, and watch your baking time accordingly.
Please don’t judge my pink, formica countertops…renters can’t be choosers.
Oatmeal Cream Pie Bars
1 stick butter, cold and cubed
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1 egg, room temperature
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup raisins, optional
1/2 cup pumpkin spice morsels, cinnamon chips, or white chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and grease a large baking dish.
In bowl of a stand mixer (or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer or pastry blender), cream together butter and sugar. Add in 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, oats, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon with a fork. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients into butter mixture — use a spoon to add slowly, otherwise you’ll end up covered in flour! Mix in egg, JUST until combined.
Press half of the mixture into your WELL-GREASED pan, and bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sweetened condensed milk with remaining cinnamon and vanilla. Sprinkle top of partially-baked crust with raisins, and pour milk mixture evenly over crust. Crumble remaining oatmeal dough over the surface of the milk. Sprinkle with baking chips, and press down very gently so bars will hold together. Finish with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt — don’t go crazy, but the sweet & salty combo gives a killer finish!
Bake until lightly browned on top — about 35 minutes for my freak 8″ x 11″ dish. Let cool 20 minutes on counter, then cool completely in fridge before cutting. Store bars in tightly-sealed container on counter for up to 5 days.
Recipe inspired by my favorite, Sally!