Banana Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chunks

Most of my cookbooks have come from the clearance section of book stores. Sure, I have a few that I paid a pretty penny for, but the reality is that I will likely only attempt a small portion of the recipes – why pay $40 for that?

One a recent jaunt over to Barnes & Nobles, we bought a couple more books: Bon Appetit Desserts, 631 pages of luscious desserts, and The New Way to Cook Light. Mikal loves Cooking Light magazine, and has been encouraging me to take a look at what they have for years. The first thing I did when we got the books home was flag all of the recipes I plan on trying; both books have dozens of flags sticking out of them.

In Bon Appetit Desserts, I came across a whole section of bar cookies. For some reason I can’t quite identify, I seem to be really interested in  trying to make bar cookies. Prior to this, I really hadn’t made bar cookies. It just hasn’t been something I wanted to do – probably because I love my cookie scooper. Ever since I discovered that thing and got one that held up, my scoop and I have been the best of buds when it comes to cookies. (Prior to scoop, I rolled cookies by hand from a spoon – but they’d always be too small because larger rolled dough balls always felt too big. As you can guess, I also had major consistency issues, and that’s not something you want from a pseudo-bakery, right?)

But back to bar cookies. Suddenly I have this funky burning passion to  attempt bar cookies. Add to that a brunch of the most amazing banana bread french toast (you must try it, you must you must~!), and you get this week’s recipe. Really I was looking for banana bread muffin cookies to see if I could somehow replicate the french toast experience in bite size, but I found this first and it seemed to work well enough for my banana craving.

Personally, the next time I make this I would nix the chocolate, or perhaps just do a light drizzle over the top; the breading around the chocolate had a wonderful flavor, a little delicate, but the chocolate just railroaded it in my opinion. Could have also been that I made it with Nestle chocolate chips – I inherited 3 giant bags of it, so I figured I would start in on those. It turns out I may be a bit spoiled by Guittard chocolate. Oh well.

I also substituted walnuts for the original pecans… again, on the banana bread kick.

Banana-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chunks

from Bon Appetit Desserts

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas, about 2 large
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz chocolate, cut into pieces (or chocolate chips)
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Preheat the oven 350°F. Butter and flour a 15x10x1-inch baking sheet. (I put down parchment paper first – made getting them out much easier.) Blend flour, oats, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until well-blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, then vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then chocolates and nuts.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out clean and the top is golden, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on rack, then cut into bars.

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