Salted Caramel Coffee Chocolate Chip Bars

 

It feels like it has been raining here endlessly. When you live somewhere like the Pacific Northwest you come to rely heavily on the different distinctions between levels of precipitation. Is it just a shower? Is it sprinkling?  Is there light rain? You catch our drift.

Well, it has been full on raining. The forecast seems to alternate between either 100% chance of rain (it was correct) and a 90% chance of rain (this was also correct). We can’t complain too much though since we had a very dry summer!

Since it’s been so gloomy out we decided to bake something that was pure indulgence and fun. We stumbled across some salted caramel chips a little while ago (at Bulk Barn for those of you who live in Canada) and thought that now would be the perfect time to use. When combined with coffee, chocolate chips, and brown sugar they became absolutely divine.

It was tough to figure out a name for these bars. They are not really a blondie and they’re not really a cookie either, but somewhere in between. We stored ours in the fridge because it resulted in a chewy, almost fudge like consistency which we loved.

If you can’t find the salted caramel chips you could easily substitute them with an equal quantity of chocolate chips or butterscotch flavoured chips and come up with a bar as equally delicious. You could also throw in some nuts- pecans or walnuts would be fantastic! These bars are sure to create a little burst of sunshine in anyone’s rainy day!

Go bake.

Salted Caramel Coffee Chocolate Chip Bars

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

12 tablespoons (171 g) salted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups (320 g) light brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons instant coffee, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm water

1 large egg

1  1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup (91 g) chocolate chips

1 cup (178 g) salted caramel chips

Directions:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a  9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper or tinfoil and then spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, dissolved instant coffee, and vanilla and stir again until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Then, gently stir in the chocolate chips and salted caramel chips.
  5. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Transfer the pan to your preheated oven and bake for 18-24 minutes, or until the blondies are golden brown and just beginning to form cracks.
  6. Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. When ready to serve, remove the parchment paper from the pan and cut into squares.  Enjoy!

*We found that storing these in he fridge provided the best texture, but they can also be stored at room temperature.

Inspired by this recipe.

Fudgy Oatmeal Bars

With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, let’s talk about something a bit more on the lighter side of things. Like what happens when you stuff a rich and fudgy chocolate filling inside soft and tender oatmeal cookie bars. Here’s a hint… you’ll want more.

On the west coast of Canada, Starbucks stocks these pastries called Oat Fudge Bars that are out of this world. In the US the closest we’ve seen is something called a Michigan Cherry Oat Bar, but let us be the first to tell you (in a completely unbiased way of course!) that the oat bars with fudge are better.

Today’s bars get their uniquely fudgy center by melting sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and butter together to produce a smooth velvety fudge that is so simple to make! It then gets sandwiched between two layers of thick and chewy oatmeal cookie. We used 60% Ghiradelli chocolate chips for our fudge but regular chocolate chips would work just as well!

The oatmeal cookie base is very similar to your standard oatmeal cookie recipe, and gets made much the same way. First you start off by creaming together butter and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla, dry ingredients, and finally the oats. Quick cooking oats are a must for this recipe. Leave your old-fashioned oats for your oatmeal cookies!

The unique thing about these bars is that you don’t completely encase the fudge layer in an oatmeal cookie crust. Instead, you dot the second layer of oatmeal mixture over top of the fudge so that the fudge can peak out and let itself be seen in all its fudgy glory. Believe us, fudge tastes different when it gets to be in the spotlight!

The fudge layer is thck too guys, which is totally satisfying. The oatmeal cookie layer is not too sweet at all though so you’re not overwhelmed with a double-dose of sweetness.

These bars would make the BEST after-school snack and make you a hero to your kids. Or, if you’ve had a long day at university or work these bars would be the perfect pick me up with your afternoon cup of coffee. They’re sure to be a hit whenever you eat them!

Go bake.

Fudgy Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup (226 g) salted butter, softened

2 cups (224 g) light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract, divided

3 cups ( 240 g) quick cooking oats

2 1/2 cups (313 g) all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups (315 g) chocolate chips

3 tablespoons (42 g) salted butter

Directions:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together 1 cup butter with the brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in the ggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture and then set aside.
  4. In a small pot, heat the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, 3 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon vanilla.
  5. Pat 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the preparen pan. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the top, and dot with the remaining oat mixture.
  6. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is starting to look slightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into bars. Enjoy!

Inspired by a recipe found in Just Desserts, a compliation cookbook from KCTS 9 Cooks (2013).

No-Bake Almond Butter Oat Bars with Cranberries and Chia Seeds

We love when we can combine things that taste good into something that is actually good for us. This creates a no-guilt situation which you simply must capitalize on every chance that you get.

These oat bars are packed with all the superfoods you hear about on TV, but have no clue what to do with when it actually comes to making something with them. They are a friendly introduction to utilizing and eating nutritional powerhouses like cacao nibs and chia seeds.

Ok, this is your warning guys… we’re about to nerd out on the nutritional benefits of eating these things for a bit here! Feel free to skip ahead to the recipe if you want to!

Chia seeds are a source of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and protein. They’ve also been shown to decrease belly fat by fighting insulin resistance, and to be a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of their ability to slow down digestion. Here’s a great article if you’d like to read more.

Cacao nibs are a source of magnesium, fibre, iron, antioxidants, phenylethylamine (PEA), anandamide, theobromine, and contain mood boosters that act on the neurotransmitters in your brain. Some of those nutrients are a mouthful, but if you’d like to read up on the benefits a bit more we’ve included a link to a great article here.

What we really love about these bars though, is that they come together in a snap and don’t require us to turn on the oven. When you can just pour a bunch of ingredients into a bowl and come up with something that tastes fantastic- we’re sold. The chocolate topping requires a bit more effort, but if you’re feeling really lazy, they would still be fantastic without it!

We used 72% dark chocolate which added the perfect sweetness to the finished product, and offset the flaky sea salt that we sprinkled on top.

And guess what? The chocolate coating is the only source of sugar in this recipe.  All the sweetness for these bars comes from maple syrup which is a definite plus in our books. It makes these bars the perfect anytime bar- pre-workout, post-workout, breakfast on the go, camping treat, hiking snack, you name it! These bars will leave you feeling satisfied and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you!

Go bake. Actually…go chill things in the fridge! ?

No-Bake Almond Butter Oat Bars with Cranberries and Chia Seeds

Ingredients:

1 cup (256 g) smooth, unsalted almond butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 1/2 cups (226 g) old-fashioned oats*

1/2 cup (48 g) sliced almonds

1/2 cup (62 g) dried cranberries

1/4 cup (41 g) chia seeds

1/4 cup (28 g) cacao nibs

3/4 cup (106 g) dark chocolate, chopped (we used 72%)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top (We used the Maldon brand)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Place the oats into a large pan over medium heat and toast until golden and fragran, stirring frequently, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and the oats to the bowl with the almond butter mixture in it. Wipe out the skillet and add the almonds, toasting over medium heat and stirring frequently until golden, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the almond, cranberries, chia seeds, and cocoa nibs to the bowl with the oat/almond butter mixture. Fold the mixture until well combined.
  4. Line an 8-inch square pan with a sling of tinfoil, leaving an overhang on each side to use as handles when removing the finished bars. Scrape the oat mixture into the pan and press down firmly with the back of a large spoon or damp hands to pack the mixture down into an even layer.
  5. To make the topping, place the coconut oil and chocolate in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20-25 second increments, stirring after each session, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour the melted chocolate over the bars, spreading to the edges to coat evenly. Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of flaky salt and leftover cacao nibs.
  6. Transfer the bars to the refrigerator and chil until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Gently lift the bars out of the pan using the tinfoil sling, and using a sharp knife, cut the bars into squares.

* To make t his recipe completely gluten-free, make sure you use gluten-free oats.

Inspired by this recipe.