This recipe is a real heritage recipe. It seems to be one of those “hand-me-down” recipes that people remember their grandmothers making. My Mom made it all the time, as well as several variations of it too. In fact, this recipe came out of her head – she didn’t even have it written down.
While searching through the internet for similar recipes, I found a few different versions, but they always include brown sugar, oats, butter and vanilla. I love that it has only 4 ingredients. This must have been something somebody created in the days when flour was rationed. I made it just as written, and it came out as a very dense and very crisp bar, similar to a granola bar. I always remember Mom making the variation that substitutes 1 cup coconut for 1 cup of the oatmeal. From there, it isn’t much of a stretch to add a half a cup of sunflower seeds or sliced almonds (or both) to get something more reminiscent of a crispy granola bar. It’s REALLY GOOD that way! One thing you absolutely MUST BE SURE TO DO, is to cut these bars while they are still a little bit warm. Because once they cool, they don’t slice, they just break apart.
Personally, I love my Mom’s original oat-coconut recipe plus the addition of a half cup each of nuts and seeds. It just seems so clean and simple. But, I’m never against trying new things, and I have found a few other variations that look good enough to try:
- The Prairie Oat Growers Association says to add 2 tsp baking powder to a recipe that makes enough for a 9×13 pan. I assume that is to try to lighten these bars up, as they really are quite dense. Since I haven’t tried it, I can’t tell you if it works or not.
- A friend of mine remembers her Mom sprinkling a cup of chocolate chips on top of the bars when they come out of the oven, then spreading them when they melt to give a chocolate topping to the squares.
- Speaking of chocolate topping, Nutella lovers say to wait until the bars cool, then to spread Nutella over the top. Mmmm! Nutella makes everything better!
- Another variation that might be worth a try is this: for a chewier square, reduce the brown sugar to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup honey. Now, I know that honey makes a really nice chewy square. In fact, why mess with this recipe when you could just hop on over to my recipe for Chewy Granola Bars and make it instead?
Okay, so this recipe is really short and sweet (heehee), and here’s how you do it:
Melt one cup of butter or hard margarine. Put 3 cups quick cooking rolled oats, 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar in a bowl. Mix all dry ingredients together.
Add 2 tsp vanilla to the butter. Pour the melted butter/margarine over the oatmeal mixture and mix well. Spread mixture evenly in a prepared 9×13 pan. To prepare the pan, now that we have this wonderful thing called parchment paper, I line the pan with parchment and use it to lift the bars out of the pan to cut. It just makes things much easier than cutting them in the pan. Waxed paper or foil would work too. If you really want to keep it old school, just lightly oil the pan. But trust me, using the parchment is sooooo much easier!
This is really, really important! Press the mixture firmly into the pan with your hand. I’m not kidding here! If you don’t press it down firmly, it won’t stick together, and your bars will crumble and fall apart on you when you try to cut them. You will get crumbles, not bars. Get your hands dirty! (Or you could use a piece of waxed paper). In any case, press the mixture FIRMLY into the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then use the edges of the parchment or foil to lift out to cut on a cutting board. Now, aren’t you glad you took my advice and lined your pan with parchment?
Important: CUT BARS WHILE STILL WARM!
This is a real heritage recipe. It seems to be one of those "hand-me-down" recipes that people remember their grandmothers making. My Mom made it all the time, as well as several variations of it. She made it so often that this recipe came out of her head - she didn't even have it written down!
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x12 or 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Leave some hanging over the sides to help remove the bars.
- Melt the butter or margarine in a small pot on med-low heat.
- Mix the brown sugar and rolled oats together in a medium bowl.
- Stir the vanilla into the butter, then pour over dry ingredients in the bowl. Stir well to combine.
- Press firmly into bottom of prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for no more than10 minutes, then lift out using the parchment and set on a cutting board. VERY IMPORTANT: Cut while still warm into small (1.5 x 1.5” squares).
• My Mom always made this using 3 cups oats and 1 cup flaked coconut. That’s the way I remember it, and that’s the way I always make it too. • A friend of mine likes to sprinkle 1 cup of chocolate chips over the top as soon as she takes it out of the oven. Pop it back into the oven for 2 – 3 minutes to soften, then spread with a knife over the top of the base. Or, if you are a Nutella nut, you could spread Nutella over the cooled squares. • The Prairie Oat Growers Association says to add 2 tsp baking powder to the recipe. I guess this is to try to lighten it up (it is pretty compact, i.e., hard and crispy). I haven’t tried it; so I don’t know if it works. • My Mom sometimes would add some nuts or seeds to the recipe, to make it taste more like a granola bar. Her typical addition was ½ cup each of sunflower seeds and slivered almonds. This goes along with the 3 cups oats and 1 cup coconut. It’s quite delicious! • For a chewier square, reduce brown sugar to 1 cup and add ½ cup liquid honey.