Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars

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As a teacher, January is a busy month. With one semester coming to an end and the second semester beginning, the workload feels like it doubles, and my intentions for the new year are put to an honest test. When I finally do get home for the evening, I sink into the couch and settle in for a night in front of the television. It turns out the tension and stress of high school finals week can be hard to shake off—even for a teacher.

As my personal history has shown, when hunger strikes during these busy times I tend to choose the easiest (and often the least healthy) option—takeout and candy bars, anyone? For this reason, I have learned to prep a few dinners and snacks in advance. With flavor and convenience in mind, I have partnered with Dole Sunshine to #SharetheSunshine by bringing you a recipe for mixed berry oatmeal bars that will add a bright spot to your busy weekdays.

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During winter months, I prefer to use frozen fruit in my baking because it provides consistent quality while maintaining a bright flavor. As an added bonus, using frozen fruit avoids the process of sorting, washing, and slicing that comes with fresh fruit, which is a real timesaver when you have a busy schedule. For these mixed berry oatmeal bars, I used a variety of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, but you could customize the bars to the berries of your choosing. 

In the oven, the berries bubble down into a sweet, fruity filling. Many of the larger berries partially hold their shape, delivering pockets of bright flavor throughout. The oatmeal crust bakes up soft and chewy, which provides a texture reminiscent of cereal bars. 

After these bars finished baking, I cut them into 2-inch squares and wrapped them up individually to toss into my lunchbox for an afternoon pick-me-up. The next couple weeks may be busy for me, but I'm ready for the challenge. 

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Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars are simple to make and bring out a bright fruit flavor. An oatmeal crust—made from oats, honey, and brown sugar—forms the base of the bars. Frozen berries are spread throughout the middle, which bubble into a sweet filling in the oven. The bars bake up chewy on the edges and stay soft in the middle, making for a quick and delicious snack on a busy weekday.

One Year Ago: Baked Lemon Poppyseed Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Cacao Hot Chocolate 
Three Years Ago: Cranberry Orange Muffins & Pear Vanilla Sorbet
FourYears Ago: Double Chocolate Brownies & Pear Chocolate Scones
Five Years Ago:  Rosemary Sandwich BreadCranberry Flax MuffinsChocolate Ginger Cookies, & Vanilla Marshmallows
Six Years Ago: Cinnamon Sugar CakeVanilla Bean PuddingSoft Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Marbled Banana BreadCranberry Wine Spritzer, & Quick Chocolate Cake

Mixed Berry Oatmeal Bars

Yields 16 servings (or 8 x 8-inch pan)

Oatmeal Bars
6 tablespoons (100 grams) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mixed Berry Filling
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 340 grams) Dole Frozen Mixed Berries
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan.

For the oatmeal base, beat together the butter and brown sugar until uniform in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the egg, honey, and vanilla, mixing until blended. Stir in the oats, flours, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

For the mixed berry filling, cut down any large frozen berries to keep the fruit about the same size. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the frozen berries, sugar, and cornstarch.

Spread the berry mixture evenly over the top of the oatmeal bars. Crumble the remaining batter on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in pan before serving.


This post is sponsored through a partnership with Dole Sunshine. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I am incredibly excited to be working with Dole Sunshine because of the excellent quality of their frozen & preserved fruits. Thank you for supporting Pastry Affair & my wonderful sponsors!

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

I have held an affinity for houses since I was young. Growing up, I had recurring dreams of houses filled with endless rooms. I would explore them, opening door after door, impatient to see what the next one held, disappointed when I finally awoke. Nowadays, my love for houses reveals itself in less subtle manners. Along with a standing date to watch This Old House on Sunday mornings, I regularly go on home tours for no reason other than a curiosity to know what's inside. In the summer, my boyfriend and I go on long walks around the lakes scattering our Minnesotan city. The lake walks are our compromise; he prefers to take in the beauty of nature and I prefer to take in the beauty of the lakefront properties. 

I imagine the lives held within those four walls—what the mothers hope, what the fathers fear, what the children dream.

Now that I've recently started the search for a home, the excitement I've kindled has faded somewhat as the reality has sunk in. The market is difficult, the region I'm searching is one of the highest priced in the city, and the houses I can afford will need a lot of love. I understood there would be compromises, but it wasn't until I was actually faced with the tangible decisions that I realized how difficult this process would become. Do I choose the house with the beautiful yard, but disappointingly tiny kitchen? The house with the pleasing fit and finish, but dysfunctional layout? While a good coat of paint can go a long way, it cannot cover up the unchangeable.

Right now I am looking for a beautiful place, a beautiful place to grow my family, a beautiful place that needs only a good coat of paint and little else. It doesn't exist—not for me and not right now—which has been a hard realization to swallow. Adjusting my expectations has left me with complicated feelings, especially when reality still comes at such a high price.

A house doesn't make a home, as my mother reminds me. And she's right, of course. It will be up to me to make a place beautiful, to put in the love and the work and the hope, to build a home.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars are a sweet, chewy bar to satisfy your cookie cravings. The bars feature rich dark chocolate sandwiched between chewy oatmeal cookie layers. The cookie layers are more pronounced than the chocolate, creating a balance between flavors. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

One Year Ago: Quick Puff Pastry & Traditional Challah
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Orange Cake & Blackberry Coconut Scones
Three Years Ago: Almond Cake & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
Four Years Ago:  Blueberry Lemon Pancakes, Lavender Lemon Shortbread, Lemon Pudding Cake, & Chocolate Oat Muffins
Five Years Ago: Rosemary Focaccia, Swedish Visiting Cake, Chocolate Toffee Scones, & Rosemary Crackers
Six Years Ago: Lemon Chocolate Tart, Coconut Cream Cupcakes, Yeasted Waffles, & Vanilla Almond Cupcakes

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Yields 16 servings

Oatmeal Bar
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (170 grams) old-fashioned oats

Chocolate Filling
5 ounces (140 grams) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (80 mL) heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.

In a medium bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until uniform. Gradually add flour, baking soda, salt, and oats, mixing until uniform. Press 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan evenly. Set aside the remaining 1/3 of dough.

In a microwaveable safe bowl, combine roughly chopped chocolate, heavy cream, and espresso powder.  Heat in 30-second increments in the microwave, stirring between each increment until smooth. Pour over dough and smooth.

Crumble remaining 1/3 dough over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Fig Oatmeal Bars

I escaped to the mountains. An end of summer restlessness has been holding me close the last few weeks, and I needed an escape before the school year started up again. A breath of fresh mountain air and a few handfuls of ripe mountain cherries felt like the cure.  As someone who organizes the minute details of daily life, purchasing two last minute plane tickets to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains was not in the plan, but I am trying to teach myself that life doesn't need to be so scripted. 

When we reached the mountains, we hiked away from routine and took a step into the unfamiliar. We walked along a well trodden path only a few feet wide for miles, a ledge on one side and a rock face on the other. We filled our hands with cold running water from glacial runoff, drinking deeply.  We rested on boulders as large as cars, feeling the sharpness of the sun's warmth at high altitude. We were privy to an impromptu guided tour from a mountain goat, who preferred the ease of the path to the steepness of the cliffs.

The view was the greatest of nature's design, of distant snow-topped peaks, of deep forested valleys, of wildflowers within an arm's reach. We stopped for lunch on the top of the world, sitting in silence and eating our way through PB & J sandwiches and fig oatmeal bars. Some moments, I've found, need few words.

Fig Oatmeal Bars make for a sweet, filling snack. Fresh figs are cooked down with brown sugar into a compote and subtly flavored with balsamic vinegar and vanilla. The compote is spread over an oatmeal base and baked until golden. The bars cut beautifully and hold together well without breaking apart or leaving crumbs everywhere. These bars are perfect for packing for a snack on the go and eating wherever life leads you. 

One Year Ago: Iced Matcha Coconut Latte 
Two Years Ago: Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Citrus Zucchini Muffins
Three Years Ago: Date Flapjacks & Nordic Pancake Cake
Four Years Ago: Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, Banana Rum Bread, & Vanilla Cardamom Peach Pie
Five Years Ago: Chocolate Malt Cupcakes, Coconut Pancakes, Rocky Road Cookies, & Chocolate Beet Cake
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Prune Cake, Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread, & Blueberry Muffins

Fig Oatmeal Bars

Yields 8 x 8-inch pan

Fig Compote
1 lb (450 grams) ripe figs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Oatmeal Base
1/3 cup (70 grams) coconut oil, liquid state
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1  cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (135 grams) old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan, bring the chopped figs and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. There is no need to add liquids because the figs will release a considerable amount of juice. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until figs soften and compote thickens. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut oil and brown sugar until uniform. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until blended. Stir in the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be slightly sticky. Using greased hands, press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread fig compote evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the dough evenly on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before serving.