Oatmeal bars a bake-sale classic

Gretchen McKay

If you have school-aged children, you’re probably busy now that it’s fall. Between football games, soccer matches and other school events, kids keep you running. They also can keep you baking, with the time-honored tradition of parents preparing treats for booster organizations to sell as fundraisers at the school concession stand.

These ooey-gooey bars are sure to settle the cravings of sports fans. They combine the classic tastes of peanut butter and chocolate with rolled oats — kind of like if Reese’s peanut butter cup and Archway’s oatmeal cookie had a baby — and are super easy to prepare.

If you use an 8-by-8 inch pan, the bars will be quite thick and you’ll only get 16 pieces. For thinner bars or more of them, increase the size of the baking pan.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup white whole-wheat or all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper so that you have some overhanging the sides like “handles,” then lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.

With an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together peanut butter, honey, applesauce and vanilla extract until smooth and evenly combined, about 3 minutes. Beat in salt.

Sprinkle cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda over the top. Then, sprinkle flour and oats. Beat until combined and batter comes together.

With mixer running on low speed, drizzle in milk and continue beating until incorporated. The batter will be very thick. With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in chocolate chips.

Once dough is well combined, scrape it into prepared baking dish. Then press the top to make it even.

Bake for 16 to 19 minutes, until bars are lightly golden and just set. (My bars took about 22 minutes and were still fairly gooey, but in a good way.) Allow to cool completely, remove from the pan using the parchment paper overhang, then slice.

Makes 16 bars.