Friday, October 11, 2013

Oatmeal Turtle Bars

Pecan turtles always remind me of my dad; I have this memory of watching him make pecan turtles at Christmas time, with wax paper spread across the table, caramel and chocolates and nuts all over the place.  I never really liked them because I wasn't a big fan of nuts, but as I've gotten older, I've appreciated them more.  I saw a pin about oatmeal turtle bars and I was very intrigued: pecan turtles in bar form with oatmeal in there too so you can pretend they're healthy (except for the fact that it calls for 3 sticks... this is a special occasion type of dessert!).  I thought it would be a perfect dessert for our movie premiere party, so I gave them a shot.

You bake the crust first, which basically caramelizes on the bottom (brown sugar and melted butter is an amazing combination).  Then you sprinkle pecans and chocolate on top, make a quick caramel sauce, and pour that on.  Sprinkle the leftover crust dough on top, bake, and refrigerate.  Then, voila: oatmeal turtle bars!

Let me say this: I've made a lot of desserts in my day, but rarely has anything gone over so well.  These bars were devoured; I may or may not have spotted multiple people double fisting oatmeal turtle bars.  And even I ate two that night, and I'm not a sweets person.  By a day or so later, the whole pan was gone.  They're just really good: crunchy, chewy bar bottom topped with homemade caramel, chocolate, and crumbles of oatmeal.  Healthy?  Not so much.  But decadent?  Definitely.  It should be on your Thanksgiving baking list.


oatmeal turtle bars
from Week of Menus

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter (14 tablespoons), melted
1 1/4 cup pecans, chopped into large pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

for caramel filling:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease sides and bottom of a 9x13" glass or metal baking pan.  Line pan with parchment paper and grease.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar.  Add the oats and stir until everything is evenly combined.  Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and then pour in melted butter and stir until mixture is wet and combined.

3) Spread 2/3 of the mixture across the bottom of prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.  Remove pan from oven and sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips.  Leave oven on and make caramel sauce (do not make caramel sauce ahead of time).

4) In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt sugar, butter, and cinnamon together.  Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Caramel will darken.  Remove pan from heat, stir in cream and vanilla extract.  Pour caramel mixture over pecan chocolate later and use an offset spatula to spread caramel evenly.  Sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture onto caramel and bake for 10-14 minutes more, or until top is golden brown.

5) Let bars cool in pan for 15 minutes and then place pan in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour to firm up.  Cut and serve.  Bars can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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