I like to make a dessert recipe once a week. Not only does it make great blog fodder, but also I’ve found that most dessert recipes make enough for Babyface and I to nibble on all week-long. I don’t do days without dessert. That just isn’t right. And making a batch of something new each weekend gives us a nice sweet way to end dinner for days to come.
It’s such an insane concept to me. Because three or four years ago, if you would have stuck a pile of butterscotch bars in my kitchen and told me to ration them for a week, I would have laughed in your face. Desserts were meant to be binged upon, not eaten in moderation throughout the week, but plowed through in an afternoon with a nice cold glass of guilt on the side.
The fact that I am still eating these bars a week after I made them is not a commentary on their flavor—they are rockin’ good and totally worthy of a binge—but a testament to how far I’ve come to have a better relationship with food. The container of desserts that slowly gets emptied throughout the week is like my own little progress chart for my health journey.
I’m not always successful. I had a particularly unspectacular day on Monday and, after dinner, decided to bring the whole container of these over to the couch. Two or three were mindlessly eaten before I decided that this wasn’t a path I would like to go down. I wasn’t even particularly sad or upset. It more or less was just eating out of habit. It’s hard to overcome decades of the bingeing rationale. Some part of my brain still registers that sad/lonely/depressed/anxious=eating lots of yummies.
I have to be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully be cured of my unhealthy, binge-eating ways. It was a part of who I was for such a long time. But I am proud of how far I’ve come. This may sound extreme, but I’ll always be in recovery. And it may sound strange, but keeping foods like this around the house are a perfect way to strengthen my resolve.
Alright, enough about me, let’s talk about these bars.
I love them because they are the perfect combo of decadence (butterscotch, yo!) and healthfulness (whole grains, yo!). They are sweet, rich and chewy with a crumbly, hearty grain layer. I’m a big fan of these bars. The only thing that would make them better? A drizzle of chocolate on top. I was fresh out of chocolate (I know, who am I?) but the next time, I promise you these will have a pretty chocolatey criss-cross on top.
I know a lot of you are already thinking about the holiday dessert table, and I think these would be a great addition. If you do that, I’d cut them into tiny, bite-sized squares to go right along with the squares of fudge and small cookies.
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Whole Grain Butterscotch Bars
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes two dozen bars
I made the mistake of baking these in a baking pan without parchment paper. Do as I say, not as I do. The butterscotch becomes caramelized and sticky after baking and can make pan clean-up a nightmare. Protect your pan (and your sanity) with a layer of parchment paper.
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups oats
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-14 ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Line a 13×9 baking dish with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Pour butter mixture into oats mixture and stir until mixture is crumbly and evenly distributed (I found using my hands to “squish” it worked best).
- Remove 2/3 cups of oats mixture and set aside. Press remaining oat mixture into the prepared baking dish until forms a solid crust. Set aside.
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch chips and a pinch of salt. Microwave on high for one minute or until butterscotch chips are melted. Stir well.
- Pour butterscotch mixture over oat crust and spread out evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle reserved oat mixture over top of butterscotch.
- Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Remove from oven, run a sharp knife along all edges of the pan and then set aside to cool completely. Slice into small squares when cool.