From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This wonderfully easy cookie takes a few ingredients and transforms them into a confection that is a sweet lover's dream. I found the recipe for the squares several years ago and I use it whenever I need a treat that is portable and can withstand the crowding and jostling of a picnic hamper. The recipe has been around for a while, and, as near as I can tell, it first appeared in a Reiman Publication in 2002. The cookie is a bit like a carmelita, but while these rich and sweet bars disappear as quickly, they are much easier to make. Over time, I've made a change or two to the recipe. I thought the original version contained too much salt and needed something to cut through the richness of the chocolate. I reduced the salt by 1/2 teaspoon and added orange zest to the filling. I also cut back on the size of the squares I serve to family and friends. If you love a sweet treat, I know you'll enjoy these bars. You'll find they'll disappear as quickly as they're made. Here's the recipe.
Chocolate-Orange Oat Squares...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Reiman Publications
1 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided use
2 cups packed light or golden brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt, divided use
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1) In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Combine oats, flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and baking soda and gradually add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Press two-thirds of oat mixture into a greased 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan.
2) In a large saucepan, combine milk, chocolate chips, salt and remaining butter. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts, orange zest and remaining vanilla. Spread over the crust. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Yield: 4 dozen.
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