These O’Henry Bars are still just as good as I remember.
My mother is my role model in everything. I can’t say I always felt like that, but hey… we’re all entitled to that teenage stage. She raised me, my sisters, and brothers (and there are a whooooole bunch of them) in a house filled with love, happiness, a little bit of crazy and a whole lot of really good food. That’s not to say there was never a dinner that one of us didn’t like (and this was back in the day when it was a policy of “eat it or go to sleep hungry”) but there was always that comforting warmth in the kitchen. Until this day, when I’m sick, all I want is my mother’s food.
One of my favorite recipes up until today is my mother’s O’ Henry Bars. You may have seen many variations of this, but to me, this is always going to be a treasured, passed down, family tradition. Whenever there was a simcha, although the freezer would be fully stocked with all sorts of cookies, cakes and bars, these were the ones that we all tried to sneak. A big family meant there were always people around, so sneaking was NOT an easy feat with the freezer in a central location in my house. But sneak them we did! No matter what it took, it was worth all of the effort and planning involved; carefully tiptoeing up to the freezer, slowly pulling it open so the creaking door wouldn’t alert anyone to the crime, rummaging around to find the right container, and sneaking some to a quiet corner. But then that familiar taste and mmmmm…it was all worth it!
Even though we were occasionally caught and reprimanded because those bars were meant for this one’s bar mitzvah, or so and so’s kiddush… that first bite just made everything right in the world. Each of us grew up thinking, wait.. KNOWING that WE were definitely the favorite so we all assumed that someone else would get caught and THEY would be the ones to get in trouble. I’m sure that my mother, being the smart person she is, always anticipated this and doubled the recipe just in case.
More recently, not so much health reasons, but because I’m usually too tired to pull out my mixer, I started making the O’Henry bars using oil instead of margarine, and was delighted to find that it didn’t compromise on taste.
These freeze perfectly and are the most amazing snacks to have around your house for Yom Tov when you want to serve up a treat or just enjoy some me-time. Even though I don’t have to worry about getting caught, I still sneak a piece and try and find a quiet corner to enjoy them.
- ⅔ cup oil
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup light corn syrup (+ 2 tablespoons optional)
- 4 cups quick oats
- ¾ cups chocolate chips
- 1 cup peanut butter
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a 9- x 13-inch pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a regular bowl, beating very hard to achieve the same results), cream together oil and sugar until fully combined and creamy.
- Add vanilla, corn syrup, and oats. Add additional corn syrup if mixture seems to dry to combine well.
- Flatten mixture into an even layer in prepared pan. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- Melt chocolate chips with peanut butter and mix to combine. Spread in an even layer across the top of the bars. Let firm before slicing. Try not to eat the entire pan without sharing!
Of course we always need some old and some new so I’ll share with you another super awesome dessert idea that I’ve started making more recently and it’s been a real hit in my house. Custard Cake! Who can say no to that? It’s creamy and refreshing and sinfully delicious! And it’s super easy which is a big-time MUST for me, especially before Yom Tov.