If you're on a diet, even though I find that idea completely ridiculous, you should look away now. Go, go away. Shoo. Because if this wrecks your diet plan, I refuse to be held responsible.
The bottom layer is like a delicious chewy oatmeal cookie with salted peanut scattered in and around. The middle layer is a sticky fudgy raisin fudge. It's made with sweetened condensed milk, and that makes it easy but so bad. The top layer is basically a repeat of the first, but I made it special by adding broken up mini pretzels. If you're going to make this, please please please add the pretzels, but preferably don't add it before baking. It gets soft after the first hour so just take a few out of the bag and arrange it impromptu.
The suggested serving size is a square this big, an eighth of a 8 x 4.5 inch loaf pan, for example. But unless you had a light meal, or are eating one on its own, I suggest you portion it smaller because it. is. huge. It may be the tallest bar cookie I've ever made. And I love it.
Dorie encourages you to try one at room temperature, although it would normally be chilled. It's hard to disagree with her, so I had both. I did it because of her. Uh huh.
The only significant difference is in texture. If you like a dense, chocolate bar kind of texture, you'll probably go for chilled. But you need to gnaw on it, just giving you the heads up. At room temperature, its much easier to fork, and the chocolate layer is something akin to cooled down fudge sauce- not quite fluid, yet not quite stiff.
Go on, make some. You know you want to.
Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars
recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the chocolate layer:
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
¾ cup coarsely chopped peanuts, preferably salted
Center a rack in the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and place the pan on a baking sheet.
To make the oatmeal layer:
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each egg goes in. Beat in the vanilla. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear. Still on low speed, or working by hand with a rubber spatula, stir in the oats and chopped peanuts.
Set aside 1½ to 2 cups of the mixture, then turn the remaining dough into the buttered pan. Gently and evenly press the dough over the bottom of the pan. Set aside while you prepare the next layer.
To make the chocolate layer:
Set a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter, and salt in the bowl and stir occasionally until the milk is warm and the chocolate and butter are melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and stir in the vanilla, raisins (if using), and peanuts.
Pour the warm chocolate over the oatmeal crust, then scatter the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top. Don’t try to spread the oatmeal, and don’t worry about getting the topping even — this is fun, remember?
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is dull and starting to come away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool for about 2 hours.
Run a blunt knife between the edges of the cake and the pan, and carefully turn the cake out onto a rack. Turn right side up, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting.
Cut into 32 rectangles, each roughly 2¼ by 1½ inches. Makes 32 bars.