Thursday, March 24, 2011
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars/Cookies
I love peanut butter cookies but am often looking for more ways to make things a little more healthy, including adding more fiber and cutting back on the sugar and hydrogenated oils. Recently, while shopping at one of my favorite bargain food shops, I came across a whole bunch of natural chunky peanut butter. Of course, I just cannot pass up a deal like this-- 99 cents for a jar of peanut butter!!! Since I have a strange son who has a thing for textures in his food and does not like nuts in things and my husband does not particularly like chunky peanut butter, I rarely buy it. However, I had a brainstorm a while back (another time I found some reduced chunky peanut butter on clearance) that I could use chunky peanut butter in cookies and baking and not need to add the chopped nuts separately. So remembering this, I bought a flat of the chunky peanut butter- full of plans about how to use it up. Well, it has been a little while, and I got a little sidetracked with other things. The other day, I saw all that peanut butter sitting begging to be used, and I decided I needed to get on the stick! Now, if any of you have used natural peanut butter to bake with, you know it does not give quite the same flavor and texture to things that the stuff with all that hydrogenated oil gives, but it is still good. Since I have been eating natural peanut butter all my life, I really do not miss the difference.
I made this recipe from the Bake It Better With Quaker Oats cookbook, which is full of winner recipes using oats. The recipe name was "Peanutty Crisscrosses". Because I really do not enjoy making cookies when I am pushed for time (which is most of the time), I often opt to make bar cookies. So I adapted the recipe into a bar cookie- I will give both instructions for those who enjoy slaving over those cookie sheets.
3/4 cups butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup peanut butter- I used chunky
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (I cut back the sugar to 1 cup- still good)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked-- I used quick oats)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, vanilla chips, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips (or a combination of these- I used about 1/4 cup vanilla chips and about 1/2- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips)- optional if making formed cookies
granulated sugar if making into formed cookies
Beat together the butter, peanut butter and sugar until creamy. Add water, egg and vanilla; beat well. (I sifted the flour and baking soda together to make sure there were no lumps of baking soda not mixed in.) Add combined oats, flour and baking soda; mix well. Mix in the flavored chips, if desired.
If making into bar cookies, prepare a 9x13 inch pan either sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Spread out batter evenly in pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes, taking them out before they seem completely firm or they will be too dry. If you are using a glass dish, lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees. Cool on a wire rack completely. Then you may drizzle them with a little glaze made from confectioners sugar and milk- put it in a sandwich bag with one corner removed (very small hole) and gently squeeze the bag back and forth over top of the bars. Cut and serve. Store in a tightly covered container. If you mistakenly overbake them, you can store them in a sealed container for a couple days with a slice or two of bread to soften them up.
To make them into cookies, cover the bowl of cookie dough and chill for about 1 hour. Then heat your oven to 350 degrees and shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten with tines of fork dipped in granulated sugar to make a crisscross pattern. Bake 9-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container. Makes about 7 dozen.