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Chewy oatmeal bars are one of my favorite go-to travel snack foods, especially when faced with budget airlines that don't feed you for free and also don't want you to bring your own stash. Regardless, I try to pop something sort of healthy and hearty (and easy to scarf down on the sly) in my bag before I hop on the plane. I've tried twice to make the chewy variety of these bars at home, but gave up. Nothing worked to get them significantly chewy while staying together. I have come to terms with the fact that using all from-scratch ingredients will simply not get you that really chewy texture that you expect.
Then I got to thinking: the manufacturers are probably not baking their bars. So what no-bake cookie could give me an amazingly chewy consistency? Rice Krispie treats. Which means marshmallow. It made perfect sense that stretchy gelatin would hold everything together.
I took a look at a basic recipe for Rice Krispie treats, then played around with the ingredients to get the right consistency. Because the oats are not baked, I used quick cooking oats, and I toasted them in a skillet first. The most frustrating part was flavoring the bars, as I wanted them more like an oat bar than like marshmallow. Adding lots of honey made the bars way too soft. Peanut butter to the rescue! A little bit of honey, a bit of thick peanut butter, and some chopped peanuts did the trick to mask the marshmallow. Toss in a handful of chocolate chips and just press into the pan. Easy, chewy, and chocolaty.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore working on her new baking cookbook, and as a recipe developer for HungryGoWhere Singapore. Check out her blog: shophousecook.com . Follow Yvonne on Twitter.