09 April 2012

Eats: creamy lemon oatmeal bars

I’m going to let you in on a secret, dear reader. Just between us.

The reason for all the oatmeal recipes lately was that I realized I’d had an opened but otherwise untouched container of oats in my freezer for, oh... a minimum of eight years. Keep in mind that I moved to Nashville seven years ago. And that I moved to this house six years ago. So basically, I’ve inexpicably moved these oats around with me for years, never using them, after purchasing them only to use a cup or so when I was an undergraduate to make some chocolate oatmeal cookies.

(Which, if I recall correctly, were a miserable failure that never solidified. But I digress.)

You’d think that opened oats that had been in a freezer for eight years would be inedible or at least taste like a gosh-awful case of freezer burn. You’d also think that I would just throw them out without bothering to test that theory. And you would be wrong. Wrong wrong wrong on both counts! It’s ok, I was too. Despite assuming they’d be awful, I tasted a few before throwing them out. And they were 100% fine. Absolutely no lingering freezer-taste. And I didn’t die from whatever poisonous bugs could grow in oats in sub-freezing temperatures!

Convinced that I had some miraculous incorruptible oats on my hand, I set about making as many oatmeal recipes as I could find (the previous two I’ve featured are here and here). But today’s the last recipe I’ll feature with my incredible freezer-resistant oats. Fortunately, like the two previous, it is ridiculously tasty. Worthy of miraculous oats!

Today I’m telling you about these creamy lemon oatmeal bars that were floating about Pinterest recently. And before we get to the “oatmeal” part, let’s talk about the “creamy lemon” part. All you need for that is a can of sweetened condensed milk, which starts at this consistency:

And a quarter-cup of lemon juice. The source calls for fresh lemon juice, plus some zest, but I cheaped-out and got the juice in the plastic squeezy lemon.

Either way, once the lemon juice and condensed milk are stirred together, a second rather miraculous event occurs:

It thickens. Like, a whole whole lot. True, I use lemon juice to make faux-buttermilk out of regular milk in a pinch, and I’m used to that becoming a bit thicker. But this turns into a pudding that only solidifies more as it sits!

That blew my mind. Two ingredients for a deliciously sweet, thick, lemony filling, you guys!

While that incredibly simple filling rests and thickens, it’s time to make the oatmeal bar part of the recipe. For that, you need one and a quarter cups of flour, one cup of oats, half a cup of brown sugar, a stick of softened butter (I used salted unlike the source), and a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda.

Those ingredients will combine into a crumbly mixture. Half gets tightly pressed into the bottom of an 8x8 greased baking dish:

And popped into a pre-heated 375-degree oven for ten minutes to make a nice crispy, crusty base for the bars!

Once that’s baked, add the lemon filling on top, which should be a super-thick goo by this point:

Then crumble the rest of the oatmeal mixture over the top:

And stick it back in the oven for twenty minutes until golden brown. Then cool, cut, and serve! So easy.

I prepared these for a gathering with friends and, just like last week’s recipe, they raved over them. Again... my friends are nice people who probably compliment my cooking and baking simply because they are polite and encouraging. But I certainly adored these, at least – if only because they were so ridiculously easy to prepare for such a tasty treat!

Then again, maybe they were tasty because of the miraculous oats? I have yet to make them without incorruptible oats, so I can’t be sure. If you give it a try, let me know how you like them! Meanwhile, I’ll be over here, wishing I wasn’t – for the first time in eight years – finally out of oats.


Miranda said...

Looks yummy!