About a month ago, I stumbled across this recipe from Natalie, featured on Baking is Hot. As a side note, I also write for Baking is Hot, and I often get to write about Natalie’s delicious baked goods. (Her blog is worth every minute and every calorie.) If you’ve never read it, you should!

Anyway – fast-forward a couple of weeks. It was my work BFF’s birthday. I knew that I wanted to do something special for her, and a store bought dessert wasn’t going to cut it. She loves oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, so that was my first thought. But quite frankly, those just wouldn’t have been exciting or special enough. This was her 23rd birthday. This was a big deal. And then…I remembered Natalie’s Oatmeal Fudge Bars. Perfect! All of Kate’s favorite flavors but kicked up a notch. Thicker, denser, chocolate-ier.

Needless to say (look at them!), they went over VERY well in the office. Everyone loved them! (Even a certain someone who usually isn’t a fan of chocolate.) I meant for this post to go up earlier, as in, a lot closer to Kate’s actual birthday, but life happened. So…Happy Birthday (again) Kate!! Love you, and so glad I got to celebrate with you!!

Moral of the story: next time you want to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, don’t. Make these instead. You won’t be sorry. After all, these are TWO layers of chewy oatmeal baked around a thick layer of FUDGE. Enough said.

Gather Up:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 (15 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease one 9×13 inch pan.

Beat together butter and both sugars with an electric mixer. Beat until fluffy and add eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Make sure there are no flour clumps in the dough. Set to the side.

In a small sauce pot combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt and vanilla. Turn to medium low heat and stir until completely melted and creamy. (I have a gas range. With the direct flame I had to reduce to my heat to low while melting.)

Divide the dough into two portions, with one portion having slightly more than the other. Use the portion with slightly more as the bottom crust. Press into a prepared 9×13 inch pan.

Pour fudge mixture on top of unbaked crust. Avoid pouring directly near the edges, or have your crust go up the sides to avoid the fudge from touching the pan.

Flatten pieces of dough in the palm of your hand, and place on top of the fudge. Strategically leave a few windows on top so you can see the delicious fudge underneath.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is light brown and fudge layer is set.

Cool at least 30 minutes before cutting. Better served and stored at room temperature. And can be held up to three days, in an air tight container.

Makes 20-24 bars. Recipe from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine.