Saturday, October 8, 2011

Butterscotch Bars

I married a man who doesn't like chocolate.  

Isn't he cute?
I'll give you a minute to let that sink in.  How can anyone NOT like chocolate?  I don't know, either.  I went through this exercise years ago when we met.  I tried convincing him that chocolate is amazing.  I tried to convert him to the creamy dark side.  I had no success.

I had to improvise.  I love to bake and so many of my recipes use chocolate.   But what do you make when you want something rich and creamy but you can't use chocolate?

One day, the clouds opened.  A ray of light came down.  I was inhaling my dipped cone from Dairy Queen (hey, it was hot that day) and realized I had the answer all along.  Meet my friend, the Butterscotch Morsel.

There are not enough butterscotch recipes out there.  I kind of feel like Butterscotch is becoming an antique flavor.  It needs to come back!  Its creamy, buttery, and almost caramel like qualities would surely kick it back into the mainstream with the right advertising. 

Especially when that little morsel can become something like this:

Squares of heaven, I tell you.  I also have to tell you where I got this recipe.  But first, do you want in on a little secret?  Cooking Light has the best recipes.  Before you get all deflated and start shunning diet baking methods, understand the very important caveat to these magazine recipes.  You must re-fatten them.  Seriously.  Pick up a copy of Cooking Light, leaf through the beautiful glossy pages, choose a recipe that looks good and start reconstituting it with the delicious ingredients it started with before it became "light".  Put back the butter and the sugar.  They will always tell you how they made it "light" and that's your road map to getting a recipe back on track.  Some of my best recipes are those that have been nursed back to their original luster using this method.  This recipe is one of them.

Grab the chopped walnuts and start toasting them in a dry skillet, over medium heat until they smell like heaven -- about 4 minutes or so.  Keep an eye on these - they can burn easily.  Don't skip this step!  Toasting nuts adds a rich layer of flavor.

Mix the melter butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until creamy.

 I love oats.  I know they're horse food.  I don't care.

Combine your oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.  Salt is probably the most important ingredient in any baking recipe.  Salt does for sweet what it does for savory... don't leave it out!

Time to get these two together.

Pour the butter/sugar mixture into the oat/flour mixture and stir with a fork until it looks like this:

Take about 3 cups of this mixture and sprinkle it in your greased 9x13 pan. 

Press it down to create a nice, even layer of bottom crust.

Now for the star of this show!  Remember those gorgeous little morsels?  We're going to enrobe them in sweetened condensed milk.  Yes.  I can eat it right out of the can.  Microwave this on high for 30 seconds at a time until everything is melted.

Stir in your toasted chopped walnuts.

Scrape this mixture into your pan and spread evenly.

Now take the leftover oat mixture and sprinkle it evenly over the top. Gently press it down a bit.

30 minutes later the top will be golden brown and these will be done.  But not ready!  When these come out of the oven they will be fragile, molten-filled bars that will fall apart if you touch them.  Let these cool completely - about 2 hours - before cutting them. 

Creamy, rich, and satisfying.  Who needs chocolate?  Welcome back, Butterscotch.

Butterscotch Bars
Adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups butterscotch morsels
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar together until creamy.  Stir in the vanilla and the egg. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. You don't want to add too much flour - it will make the bars dry.

Combine flour, oats, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Add oat mixture to sugar mixture all at once and stir with a fork until combined (mixture will be crumbly). Place about 3 cups oat mixture into the bottom your glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch morsels, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on full-power for about 1 minute or until butterscotch morsels melt, stirring every 20 seconds.  Repeat this step until combined.

Stir in your walnuts, and scrape the butterscotch mixture into the baking dish, spreading evenly over crust. Sprinkle evenly with remaining oat mixture, gently pressing into butterscotch mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Place pan on a cooling rack and run a knife around outside edge. Cool completely before cutting into bars.  

As the bars come to room temperature, they will take on a delicious fudgy texture in the center.  For a special treat - scoop some of the bars out when they're hot (with a spoon) and serve over ice cream.  


  1. These look delish!!!! Can't wait to try them :) I'll let you know how it goes! LOVE your blog- can't wait to see more of your creations. Miss you!

  2. Your opening was a similar issue I faced all through our childhood. Don't give up the fight! :-)

  3. Wow! Your Blog is amazing! You could have wrote the receipe out for me on the back of a used envelope like I usually do! lol Instead you have step by step pictures and everything!! Very impressive....thanks!

  4. These look amazing! Your blog is really coming along and it looks so professional. The pictures are beautiful and making me extremely hungry!