I have a goal every holiday season of making at least one new cookie recipe. This year I was adventurous and I made two new varieties. One new cookie was peppermint twist kisses and the other, which quickly has become my husband’s favorite, was oatmeal cream cheese butterscotch bars. The past few years I’ve ventured away from some of the more traditional holiday faire and tried more unique types of cookies. Last year, my iced cinnamon chip cookies became a big hit replacing the more traditional chocolate chip cookie in look and flavor. This year my peppermint twist kisses not only gave the look of the holiday but also provided the flavor combination of peppermint and chocolate. Yum!
This recipe is a great melding of oatmeal, cream cheese and butterscotch. It’s not all that difficult to make and it tastes divine. I found I had to buy two bags of butterscotch chips as my husband attacked the first bag when it was in the refrigerator leaving me barely enough to make the bars. Beware those elves that steal the chips before the cookies are made!
For about a year I have been chronicling recipes I’ve made and giving them my rating and lessons learned. As I look back on these recipes there’s hardly a one that has a rating below an A minus. So I’ve decided not to do recipe ratings anymore as I promise to bring you only A and A plus recipes. I will definitely continue my lessons learned, as I know how appreciative I am to learn tips and tricks ahead of time that will make me more successful in the kitchen, especially when trying a recipe for the first time.
Lesson Learned 1 – Preparation is key to this recipe: Prepping the pan appropriately is key to the success of this recipe. You need to line a 9 x 13 inch pan with a couple of pieces of foil. Make sure the foil overlaps on the long sides of the pan to serve as handles when you lift out the bars. Grease the foil lightly, and wait until the pan is completely cool before lifting the bars out and cutting them (more on that below). If you do that, you will have absolutely no problem removing them from the pan.
Lesson Learned 2 – You don’t need a stand mixer to make these cookies: For those of you that don’t have a stand mixer, never fear – you don’t need one to make this recipe. The bottom of the bars and the crumb topping are one in the same mixture and are made in a food processor. The filling can be made with a hand mixer. Personally I preferred making the crumb mixture in the food processor. I think the pulsing action of the food processor blends the butter with the sugars more completely creating a perfect crumble. The texture should resemble what you see in the picture to the right. I would not recommend trying to make the crumble by hand. I also have to admit it felt weird not using my stand mixer to make the bars, but it was a delightful departure from the usual way of making cookies.
Lesson Learned 3 – Let the pan cool and chill the bars before attempting to cut them: This is critical. The ingredients need to completely set before cutting and the only way to do that is to let them cool. Once the pan was slightly cool I covered it loosely with foil and put it out in the garage. The winter temperatures here in Colorado make it easy to use the garage as a cooling station. I don’t recommend this for warmer climates. If you live in one, let the pan cool on a cooling rack in the kitchen and then put it in the refrigerator once the pan is cool to the touch. Leave the pan in the refrigerator until the bars have completely cooled.
Although this recipe may look difficult it is really quite easy, and definitely worth it. This recipe has become my husband’s new holiday favorite. I think you will enjoy it too!
Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars…
2 sticks room temperature butter cut into small pieces
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 bag butterscotch chips (11 ounces)
I package cream cheese, softened (8 ounces)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil making sure the foil overlaps the side of the pan to create handles for easy removal. Grease the foil lightly.
Combine flour, oats, and brown sugar in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter, cinnamon and butterscotch chips. Pulse until the mixture clumps when pressed between your fingers. Press half of the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until slightly golden and set approximately 12 – 15 minutes.
With a hand mixer beat until smooth the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice and zest and vanilla. Spread the mixture evenly over the cooled oatmeal mixture. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture on the top. Bake until top is golden, approximately 40 minutes.
Cool and chill before cutting. Use the foil handles to remove the bars from the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into squares.