No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I want to preface this post with an acknowledgement. Yes, I realize I WAY over-edited that photo. My new camera and my recently downloaded copy of GIMP 2.0 have been so much fun to play with, I haven’t really figured out when to cut myself off. The good news is, I now know how to set my white balance, and I’ve figured out how to restrain myself a little better when playing around with color saturation and such. Now on to the food.

Since this decade started, my New Years Eves have varied from going to sleep at 9 PM on a relative’s couch (I was sick), to drinking far too many Coors Lights in a cabin on Mt. Hood, to dancing to DJ sets at a bar until 2 AM. It seems like far too often, New Years Eve is an over-planned, underwhelming night, but this year, we kept it simple. Black tie New Years Eves are not my style at all, and although I love making fancy desserts, I wanted something laid-back and low-maintenance to set the tone for 2010, which we rang in on a rooftop with our good friends.

These bars (which I found on the adorable site Buns In My Oven) come together quickly and just need to hang out in the fridge for a few hours before you eat them. You can almost consider them healthy, if you use old fashioned oats and natural peanut butter like I did (I guess maybe the butter and sugar and chocolate counter-act any health benefits, but lets overlook that). Mike thinks they taste like Snickers, and I can see where he’s coming from. They’re unfussy and highly addictive, and you probably have the ingredients for them in your pantry right now.

Recipe:
(addapted from Buns in My Oven, originally from allrecipes)

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Icing:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk

Line and 8″ square pan with wax paper.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, vanilla, and oats. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring well. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and peanut butter.
Spread evenly in the pan.
In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth (it may take on the consistency of frosting, and that’s OK). Spread evenly over the oat mixture.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then cut into squares to serve.

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