This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MemoriesInTheBaking #CollectiveBias
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, bar cookies are my absolute, all-time favorite treat.
Think about it: they’re delicious, easy, and very packable. Someone who bakes as much as I do needs to be able to transport baked goods without an epic fail, and bars are conducive to that. Whether I’m headed to holiday potlucks and parties or just to the office, bars are my jam.
And these bars are the best. Two layers of oatmeal cookie dough ,sandwich a luscious caramel filling, all filled and topped with holiday M&M’s® bling. Who could ask for anything more?
Not me, that’s for certain. I’m trying to really focus on what’s important these days, and that can get hard when everyone is scrambling for holiday gifts. Let’s just say that while I happily shop for presents, I’m also happier when I can create memories that my children and I will share forever.
Some of my happiest memories are simple ones. For instance, I was fixing a seam the other day that had come unstitched, and my children sat there, watching me. I told them that even though I’m not much use at sewing, my grandmother taught me the basics. I’d go over to her house and she’d teach me. I still remember that when I was about eight years old, she and I made a little pink apron together for me. I still have it, put away for safekeeping.
Other memories of people long gone come flooding back at unexpected times. We would visit my grandparents in New York every year when I was young, and at the time, I was an early riser. My grandmother (this is the other one) would get up with me, meet me in the kitchen and make me breakfast. I’d sit at the kitchen table with my juice and peanut butter sandwich (breakfast of champions!) and watch her bustle around, getting ready for the day. I never realized back then how tired she must have been, and how irritating it was to be up before everyone else with just a child for company. But she did it without complaining.
While I hope that someday my children cherish happy memories of our time together, I can’t take any of that for granted. My children don’t really owe me anything at all. Instead, it’s my job to give them the best possible life with a string of wonderful moments. Baking together is one way that I can do that. We like to raid the holiday section at Target to get all the ingredients we need in fun holiday packaging, like Quaker Oats (which is available in holiday packaging at Target) and Glad®!
This recipe is beautiful in its simplicity, making it perfect for bonding sessions with kids. Mine love to dump in the ingredients, and they also help me pat the dough into the pan. It makes them nice and sticky. But by far, their favorite part is sprinkling those M&M’s® Holiday Baking Minis on top before baking. I mean, they get to eat as they sprinkle. I join them!
When we’re done baking, we let the bars cool, cut them into squares and pack them in Glad® Holiday Packaging containers. They’re so festive, and they let a whole batch of bars pack up tightly and efficiently.
All of my favorite holiday memories involve loved ones teaching me how to pass on traditions and skills to my own children, and I hope you feel the same way! For savings on great products like Quaker Oats, Glad®, and Mars as well as inspiration about making memories in baking, check this out!
M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups Quaker rolled oats
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup M&M's® Holiday Baking Minis, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Gradually add the oat mixture, beating each time until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Press half of the mixture (it will be sticky) into the prepared pan, using a spatula coated in cooking spray to create a thin, even layer of dough.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- While the bottom layer is baking, make the caramel filling. In a saucepan, melt the caramels and heavy cream over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
- When the bottom layer is out of the oven, sprinkle half of the M&M's® Holiday Baking Minis onto the base. Carefully and gently add the caramel and spread it over the surface of the bars. Take the remaining cookie dough and place it on top. It will not cover the entire surface, and that's okay. Just be as even as possible.
- Take the remaining M&M's® Holiday Baking Minis and sprinkle them over the top. Return the bars to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and nearly set.
- Cool the bars completely. Using a sharp knife, cut them into squares. Arrange the cooled bars in a Glad® Holiday Packaging container.