Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

At the end of a long lane that cut through a cow pasture, we raised our kids on the same farm where I spent my childhood years happily romping through the fields, gullies and woods that covered our fifty acres in Ohio's Amish country. Those were idyllic years living in the shadow of my aging parents who provided such a nurturing atmosphere for my children with their rock-solid faith and a table where noodles, fresh bread and ice cream were as reliable as the love that consistently poured from their hearts.

It was a place where the honking of geese broke the early morning stillness as cows lifted their heads sleepily, then got up and began their slow plod to the barn, knowing that milking time was just around the corner. And in the neighboring pasture, the Percheron horses were already chomping at the dew-laden grass in noisy contentment while the sheep bleated and the lambs frolicked with abandon.

We planted and toiled and harvested, enjoying the benefits of homegrown food and the satisfaction that came from a hard day's work. We mowed the grass, gathered the eggs, dried our clothes on the washline in the backyard, pulled the weeds and always had time to sit on the front porch for a cup of coffee with a neighbor or friend.  It was a sweet country life and in many ways, I miss it.

Things have changed now.  My parents are gone, we live in the suburbs, and my children are well on their way to starting lives of their own. But that farm, and the beautiful memories we made there, will always be in our hearts.

(These bars were a favorite after-school snack for my children, based on a Mennonite recipe.)

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

1 cup butter (softened)
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats

Fudge Filling:

12 oz. chocolate chips
1 can condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs together. Add vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Mixture will be crumbly. Spread 3/4 of the mixture in a greased 10 x 15 jelly roll pan. Tip: Spread a sheet of waxed paper over the dough to press evenly into the pan.

For the filling: heat the chocolate, milk and butter in a pan and cook over medium heat until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla, then spread the fudge filling over the dough, Add remaining crumbled pieces of dough on top of filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 23 minutes. (Do not over-bake or bars will get hard) Cut into bars when cool.

Optional: Sprinkle with slivered almonds and coconut before sliding into the oven and a few sprinkles of sea salt flakes when it comes out, all toasty and golden.

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