“Hey Dolly” (Oat Shortbread) Bars

 

img_7611So I wanted a bar. But it had to be the right kind. I had previously made Hello Dolly Bars, or as they’re also known as Magic Cookies Bars, but I had found them too sweet and gloopy. Maybe I added too much condensed milk caramel or not enough dry ingredients? Either way I was far from happy with them and the resulting bars were deliciously mutated into ice cream topping instead. “Waste not, want not” etc etc.

However like a dog with a bone I couldn’t (okay I WOULDN’T) acknowledge failure. There were also a few tweaks I wanted to try. The crumb base layer of the original cookie bar was far too flimsy IMO. I wanted something with more stability and which would carry itself and the topping. Well what better way to go than with shortbread? Simplifying my Golden Coconut Shortbread with a wholewheat flour was the ideal solution. The nuttiness of the wholewheat grains perfectly complementing the oats I would add.

Another tweak was based on a pet peeve of mine – wet cookie bars. I don’t mean a bake that’s underbaked and soggy. It’s the excess of wet topping ingredients that spoils it for me. And so in with the aforementioned oats! Insider tip here- I’ve found that if a recipe calls for using jumbo rolled oats, using a mix of jumbo oats and quick oats gives a much better result. The smaller quick oats fill in the gaps and voids made between the larger oat flakes and you end up with more oaty bang for your buck. It’s a win!

The quick “caramel” of butter and sugar works as a good binder here but if it’s one thing I’m a sucker for it’s chewy bite (Samoas are my WEAKNESS!) and with that I added in some caramel pieces. These would bake to perfectly chewy morsels adding some extra interest to bars. A little fiddly work is involved here in cutting the caramels into smaller pieces but it’s absolutely worth it.

So they’re you have it- “Hey Dolly Bars”. Not quite traditional “Hello Dolly Bars” but baked bars with a lil extra something and sass.

Ingredients

Shortbread Base

  • 1 2/3 cup Wholewheat Flour
  • 1/3 cup Semolina
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Flour
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons fine sugar, divided
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup/ 2 sticks salted butter, cold and cubed

Oat Topping

  •  1/2 cup salted butter
  •  1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  •  3/4 cup  dark brown sugar
  •  1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  •  3 large eggs, beaten together
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  2 cups jumbo rolled oats
  • 1 cup quick oats
  •  1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  •  1/2 cup toffee bits apx (I use 12 Kraft caramels, chopped in half, then each half chopped in to 4)
  •  1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

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Method

Shortbread base

  1. Lightly grease and line a 9″ x 12″ traybake tin
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, semolina, rice flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Whisk together to further combine
  3. Add in the cubed butter and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture is just beginning to bind together. Every so often do a  quarter turn of the bowl to make sure you’re using all the dry mixture. You’ll want a texture somewhere between breadcrumbs and damp sand before you stop. Be wary of overworking the butter into the mixture – you want to avoid a dough that is feels slimey from the butter melting too much into the dry ingredients
  4. Tip the crumb mixture into your prepared tin and press the dough so that it forms a solid layer. Level the surface with the back of a spoon or measuring cup, making sure the mixture is evenly spread and uniform. Prick all over with a fork
  5. Refrigerate for 30 mins minimum
  6. Preheat your oven to 325°F
  7. Remove the shortbread from the fridge and bake for about 30 minutes
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to set side to cool in the tin while you make the topping

Oat topping

  1. Increase oven temperature to 350°F
  2. Prepare the topping by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter, stirring often, until it melts completely. Continue to heat. The butter will start to foam up a bit, reduce the temperature if needed. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, and the foam starts to turn brown in spots. Smell the butter; it should have a nutty aroma
  3. Remove the pan and off the heat, stir in the granulated sugar, brown sugar and salt. The mixture will be thick. Let it cool for a few minutes
  4. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture is well-combined. Transfer to a large bowl
  5. Stir in the oats, quick oats, shredded coconut, toffee bits and chocolate chips. Mix all the ingredients to combine well. Spread the mixture evenly over the shortbread crust.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bars are set around the edges and the middle is a little jiggly. They’ll firm up as they cool.
  7. Once fully cooled remove from the tin and slice in to 18 pieces (3 x 6 bars)
  8. These bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days

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