peanut butter chocolate oatmeal cereal bars

So there’s something I really want to talk about today without offending anyone.  Usually I try to avoid situations like this, being the very non-confrontational person that I am, but it’s something that’s been on my mind for awhile now and it’s obviously on other bloggers’ radars as well because recently a post by one of my favorite British food bloggers (the little loaf) pointed me in the direction of a Huffington Post piece that basically asked the question of what we are doing as food bloggers and how we might be failing a bit.  And really, to all of my fellow bloggers out there, I’m just really curious to know your thoughts.

The first point is this: we are here on the internet pointing people in the direction of our favorite recipes.  And whether your readers number in the thousands or just your parents stop by occasionally (hi Mama), there is someone somewhere who is looking at the things you post and thinking that maybe it’s something they could eat.  And that gives us a responsibility to be mindful about such things.

Now, obviously my recipe today is not so stellar as far as healthy eating is concerned (hey! it has oats in it though!).  But my point is that I feel like, for the most part, I have a responsibility to not only share with you my favorite sweet treats, but the quick meals I make for us on a weeknight and the fancy things I tackle for special occasions and the vegetables I have discovered I, in fact, love (zucchini and mushrooms are high on my list right now).  Our diet cannot subsist of sugar alone.  And while there a lot of baking-focused food blogs out there that I think are great, so many of them also do a great job of sharing baked goods that are more healthful than your standard fare.  And that is fantastic.

I think the second main point of the article is that there seem to be a lot of recipes out there these days that call for a lot of pre-packaged foods.  Oreos or twinkies or candy bars are chopped or melted or stirred together with some other stuff in various ways and put out there as original baking recipes.  And I suppose the article asks (and I am as well): is there value in that?  I think in a way there is, as obviously these can create some delicious things.  Some of my favorite desserts come from this type of thing (Andes mints spread over brownies, Reese’s cups plopped inside peanut butter cookies, etc.).  But with the frequency they seem to be seen?  Perhaps that’s where our snag is…

I know I’m doing nothing to prove either point with this recipe, as this is nothing healthy for you.  And honestly it was so basic in assembly that it hardly seemed like baking.  But I do want to say that these are amazing and addictive and I am going to need to hide them in my freezer soon before the whole pan is gone without my realizing it.  I don’t usually even like homemade rice crispie treats (which is basically what the center of these bars is), but I am in love with these.  The oatmeal on the bottom gives it a more substantial feel, the rice crispies in the center spread out the flavor and the richness in the most subtle way, and the topping of chocolate and peanut butter chips is just pure decadence.  Every bite is a perfect one.

But these can last us for awhile.  We don’t really need more sugar this week.  And in the meantime I’ll just make us our usual, reliable dinners.  Some spaghetti.  Some chicken.  Some pork chops.  Some roasted vegetables.

So I’m curious: do you think the points in Jamie Schler’s article are way off?  Or have you been feeling a bit defeated by all of the faux-baking and sugar loading (as I have a bit) recently?  (Although I fully admit I am doing nothing to help that problem with this recipe.)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cereal Bars
adapted from Southern Living magazine, April 2011

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Wait Time: 55 minutes

Makes about 4 dozen

2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups crisp rice cereal
1 (12 oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips
1 (10 oz.) package peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 15 x 10 inch (or similar sized) baking pan.
2. In a medium-sized bowl combine oats, sugar, flour, butter, and egg, stirring until the mixture is combined and sticky.  Dump the mixture into the lightly greased pan and press it down to form an even thin layer on the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 12 minutes, and then allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, and peanut butter.  Stir together and then melt together in the microwave for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, or until the sugar is melted and mixture is smooth.  Then stir in the rice cereal.  Dump the rice cereal mixture over the oatmeal crust, and press it down to form the second layer of the bars.
4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.  Melt together in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture is smooth.  Pour evenly over the rice cereal layer, using a knife or small spatula to spread it out if necessary.
5. Sprinkle the peanuts over the top of the chocolate.
6. Allow the bars to cool for about 45 minutes, until the chocolate mixture is slightly firm.  Cut into bars to serve.

9 Responses

  1. Gretchen May 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    I make something similar that my grandma calls “tuffy bars.” Has the oats in the base, but no rice cereal. I have no idea what the name means though!

    I agree that a lot of the baking recipes I see on blogs involve either using pre-made candy or trying to duplicate some kind of pre-packaged good (homemade twinkies, etc.). I prefer the kinds of baking recipes that have been handed down from previous generations–there’s a reason they’ve lasted so long, right?

    Reply
  2. Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious May 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    Erin, I am bookmarking this! I make something like this, but without the oatmeal, so I may need to try this version!! :)

    Reply
  3. Janae May 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    Hi Erin, I read the article you linked to and I agree with it and I don’t. First, if there’s a blog post with pre-made junk food ingredients, I just skip over it if I don’t like it. I don’t really see why I should be offended about it. If a blog uses those types of recipes as the main bulk of their posts, I simply won’t read that blog. I guess I kind of just think ‘to each his own’, though it does seem silly to post about things that only require unwrapping from their boxes or adding eggs and oil – but really, it’s none of my business because I just don’t read it or click on it if I see that a post contains an abundance those things. I understand that processed junk food is bad, but so is eating butter and sugar all the time too, so it all evens out in my mind. One is maybe only slightly better than the other. Anyway, that’s my two cents. I don’t care for it, but I don’t let it offend me.

    Reply
  4. thelittleloaf May 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm |

    This is a great post which really helps to see both sides of the story. I’m absolutely against too many boxed cake mixes etc, but I do love to stir the occasional chopped chocolate bar into a brownie! These bars are the perfect balance – and some great thoughts too :-)

    Reply
  5. Erin @ Texanerin Baking May 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

    I found you through your comment on The Baltic Maid and I’m so happy I did!

    I’m the pickiest eater ever and it’s just terrible. I like meat, some fruit, bready things, junk food and sweets. That’s it. And I hate vegetables except for corn and potatoes (I know they don’t really count). It’s nice to “meet” another picky eater! It’s really frustrating because people think you’re just being stubborn but it’s not like I can change my tastebuds. And my parents also made me try to eat everything, and I swallowed every bite down with a sip of water, just like I have to do today.

    Anyway, I don’t really like those posts with lots of prepackaged ingredients either. I’m one of those “healthier” baked goods bloggers and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way but to each their own, I guess. I have some of those sites in mind and I think that they’re geared at busy moms who need to make something quick and easy for their kids. Or course it’d be better if they made something “healthy” but I guess that’s not for everyone. Maybe they think that a treat is a treat?

    And these cereal bars look great! Thank goodness that we don’t have corn syrup here or I’d have to make these. And then I’d eat them all in a day and then be sad about it.

    Reply
  6. Janae May 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

    Okay, I have to take back some of what I said up there because I stumbled on a blog this afternoon that featured a recipe for a cake that used so many boxed ingredients (cake mix, jello pudding, etc.) I don’t know why it even counted as a ‘recipe’ worth posting, and to top it off, it was frosted with a ‘buttercream’ that didn’t even have butter in it (shortening). There were several other recipes on this particular site like this. Now I know what that Huff Post article was talking about, and why so many people are irritated. I didn’t realize it was that bad; I guess I only visit the sites I like and live in a food blogging bubble, so it was pretty shocking. I will continue to avoid/not pay attention to these types of sites, and only read the ones that have value to me, but I totally get it now. It does seem to bring the food blogging community – the sites that take pride in actual homemade food – down a few notches. The thing is though, every single comment (over 400 of them) loved this cake, and thanked the author profusely for the ‘recipe’. So, I guess that’s just what some people like…

    Reply
  7. Carla Barnes December 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    I have been searching for a three layer chocolate peanut butter bar but can find not recipe that comes close. The recipe I have called for a baked oatmeal layer, then a peanut butter layer that was heated then while the layers were still hot spreading chocolate chips on top which immediately melted and were spread over the top. The result was a three layer bar with a crisp chocolate top, with a creamy peanut butter filling over a chewy oatmeal bar. I am going to try the oatmeal base, and experiment with the other layers. Forget the crisp cereal and corn syrup. As I recall the peanut butter was mixed with a little milk or sweetened condensed milk.

    Reply

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