These whole wheat oatmeal fudge bars make the perfect dessert, any time of the year. A crispy oatmeal cookie forms the base and topping, and the middle is rich, gooey fudge. Pass the milk!
Sometimes life is full of tough decisions. For instance, last week I couldn’t decide if I wanted an oatmeal cookie or a brownie. Was I craving wholesome oats, or gooey chocolate? Was it a crispy cookie I was after, or something thick and cakey? In the end, I was unable to choose…so I baked both in one.
I’m so glad I did! These oatmeal fudge bars are basically everything you could ever want in a dessert (well, maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top). They’re at once crunchy and buttery, decadent and chocolatey. Plus, you can make them in about an hour and you probably have all the ingredients on hand.
So really what’s stopping you? Who cares if it’s still the height of bathing suit season? It’s all about moderation. These bars freeze beautifully, so eat half now and save the rest for a cozy winter evening. I mean, if you have that kind of willpower. I stashed four in our freezer and they’re already burning a hole in my pocket.
This recipe is from Cook’s Country (one of my all-time favorite food magazines), but I played it a little fast and loose. I swapped whole wheat flour for all-purpose. You know, to make them healthy. ?
The original version calls for quick cooking oats, something I never have in my pantry. I used regular old fashioned oats and they came out 99% perfect and 1% crumbly. The next time I make them (oh, and there will be so many next times) I will probably pulse the oats in the food processor a few times to break them up–a great kitchen hack for “homemade” quick cooking oats.
I also ran out of light brown sugar and ended up using mostly dark brown. Again, this was not a problem. I loved the deep, molasses flavor it gave the oatmeal base, and it made the fudge layer extra rich and moist. Other than that, I didn’t tinker with the recipe at all. The folks at Cook’s Country know what they are doing!
Another thing I love about these bars is that they are so pretty. Everyone that walked through my kitchen last week was impressed…and asked if they could try one 🙂 They kind of look like homemade granola bars–with a thick layer of fudge in the middle. We’ve been enjoying them either topped with some ice cream or alongside a big glass of milk.
These bars are absolutely perfect for summer cookouts, school bake sales, and the holidays!
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Fudge Bars
These oatmeal fudge bars are perfect for when you can't decide between a cookie and a brownie. This recipe makes 9 large or 16 small bars. Leftovers will freeze perfectly for several months.
For the oatmeal base and topping
- 1 cup quick-cooking or old fashioned oats
- 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick, melted
For the fudge layer
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder optional
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line an 8-x-8-inch square baking pan with foil so that it extends up the sides. Spray the foil with nonstick spray.
To make the oatmeal base and topping, combine the oats, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake until golden-brown, about 12 minutes.
To make the fudge later, combine the flour, sugar, espresso powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Melt the chocolate chips and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg, then fold in the flour mixture.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan over the cooled crust and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved oatmeal mixture. Return to the oven and bake until set and the topping is golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely. Using the foil as handles, lift out of the pan and cut into bars.