Skinny Oatmeal Fudge Bars

It’s a dark, rainy Friday, the kind of day that just screams “crawl back into bed and curl up with a good book (or movie).” And you know what? I just might at some point.

I’ve got a few books on my plate right now I’m itching to start: The Kitchen House, which I believe was a recommendation I saw on Aggie’s site, and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, the same author who wrote Gone Girl. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve borrowed Dark Places from my library’s e-book lending system and I am determined to actually get through it this time! Just last week I devoured Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in two days. Super quick and easy read, and really funny – if you’re a fan of Mindy’s shows you’ll love it.

What are you guys reading this summer? Any can’t-miss recommendations?

Skinny Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Rainy days are also good for baking, especially when the temperatures are as cool as they are right now. Yesterday I had to wear a jacket when I went out to run errands. A jacket, in the middle of July! Crazy!

If you’re looking for a baking project this weekend, let me suggest these skinny oatmeal fudge bars. Project isn’t even the right word because there’s nothing difficult or time-consuming about them. Super fudgy and chocolatey with a crisp crust and streusel topping, they’re more than a little addictive.

And that’s ok because they’re skinny! Well, sort of – at 160 calories per bar, they’re at least lighter than traditional oatmeal fudge bars, which come in at about 260 calories. Marshmallows in the filling are the trick: they replace the butter, sugar and eggs, keeping the texture fudgy and adding sweetness without tons of calories or fat. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess these oatmeal fudge bars were light or skinny, they’re just plain good!

Skinny Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Happy Friday! :)

Skinny Oatmeal Fudge Bars
from Comfort Food Makeovers by America’s Test Kitchen

Crust/Topping
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 oz) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
4 oz (2 cups) marshmallows
1/4 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out after baking. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the crust: Whisk the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until combined. Remove 1/4 cup of this crust mixture to a small bowl and set aside to use for the topping. Transfer the remaining crust mixture to the prepared pan and press into an even layer (it’ll be thin) to form the crust. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust has started to brown and is fragrant. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool for at least 15 minutes.

To make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, and salt. Add the chocolate chips, marshmallows, and milk to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring in between each, until the chocolate and marshmallows have melted, and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, then add the vanilla and the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spread the filling over the crust in an even layer. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top. Spray the tops of the bars very lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are set – the center may be slightly soft, that’s ok.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool completely. Use the foil “handles” to lift the bars from the pan and cut into squares for serving.