I was once on national television… in my underwear. 😕
It was when I was 5 years old, on a popular children’s show similar to Sesame Street. The goal of the segment was to teach young children how to get dressed by themselves: this was in the early 90s, therefore footage is thankfully not immortalized online.
Possibly even more fun than the filming process was when the show aired and everyone reconvened for a viewing party. One child’s mother brought in three plates of gooey chocolate chip cookie bars for the occasion, and not a single person left that day without having asked for the recipe. The bars would become a staple in my childhood home for many years afterwards.
Today’s recipe is a healthy makeover of those addictive chocolate chip cookie bars.
I played around to find the perfect amount of applesauce to lower the fat, calories, and sugar while still maintaining the bars’ seductively gooey texture. The subtly-strong flavor of the surprise ingredient—molasses!—takes these bars completely over the top.
They are sure to win you over!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- 1 1/2 cups spelt or all-purpose flour (180g) (oat flour works; the texture is just a bit gummier)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup rolled oats (20g)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar or date sugar (90g)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you want the bars to be
- 1/2 cup vegetable or coconut oil (80g)
- 1/2 cup applesauce (120g)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (9g)
- pinch stevia, or 2 tbsp sugar of choice
- 3 tbsp blackstrap or regular molasses (43g)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, then set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together all liquid ingredients, then pour wet over dry and stir to form a batter. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes. Makes 15-24 squares, depending on how large you cut them. (The ones in the photos are cut from 24.) I love the unique molasses flavor in these bars, but you can always substitute pure maple syrup or agave or honey (vegans don’t use honey) if you’d prefer.
Completely unrelated: I can’t go any further without giving a long-overdue mention to Sara Kiesling, an extraordinarily-talented photographer and one of my favorite people in the world. I was lucky enough to work with Sara a few months ago when she came over to do some author photos, and we spent the entire day talking about basically everything under the sun.
When she sent me the images from our shoot, I was shocked at the incredible quality: the clarity, the sharpness, the white balance and brightness (especially the brightness, as they’d been shot on a cloudy day). Then Sara really shocked me by saying the photos weren’t even edited yet! I can’t say enough good things about Sara!!!
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