October 18, 2002
Dinner at Nicole's
posted by Nadia

Tonight we were invited to Nicole's house to watch the final two hours of Pride and Prejudice and be cooked for. It's so nice to be cooked for sometimes! Earlier in the day, Nicole had made a luscious beef stew; so when we came over she added some vegetables, thickened it a bit, topped it with a pastry crust, and stuck it in the oven. It came out as a wonderful pot pie, with a nice thick crust and meaty goodness inside. It was the first time I'd ever had homemade pot pie, and I was mighty impressed.

Later in the evening, we made fudgy oat squares from The Joy of Cooking. The story of fudgy oat squares is as follows: at Mountain School, Carl ate lots and lots of fudgy oat squares, which were reportedly delicious. He brought back a recipe for a full sheet pan (we're talking pounds and pounds of oats here), and the recipe was written pretty oddly. It called for odd measurements, like "3/2 cup," which we assumed was somehow incorrect. Nonetheless, we thirded the recipe and tried making fudgy oat squares a few times, and they never came out quite right -- the oaty part kept melting and spilling over, rather than forming discrete oaty chunks on top of the squares. Then, a revelation! At the FWG's recent bake sale, Nicole made what appeared to be fudgy oat squares, but they were perfect and came out just as I had always envisioned. She reported that she used the Joy of Cooking recipe, so last night we decided to whip up a batch. It turns out that the Joy of Cooking recipe is nearly identical to the Mountain School recipe, but with -- get this -- the correct amount of flour! Who knew such a simple change could make such a difference? We've reproduced the recipe below.

Fudgy Oat Squares
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together 1 c. butter and 2 c. packed dark brown sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla.
Sift together and add to butter/sugar/egg mixture:
2 1/2 c. AP flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Then add 3 cups rolled oats.

Meanwhile, melt together 2 c. (12 oz.) of chocolate chips (or "real" chocolate, if you want to be fancy about it), one 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 Tb. butter, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. vanilla. (Joy of Cooking also adds 1 c. nuts here, but we've never done so, and have been perfectly satisfied)

Put two-thirds of the oat mixture in an even layer on the bottom of a ~10x15-inch baking pan. Pour the chocolate mixture over everything and spread it smooth. Then dot with chunks of the remaining oat batter. Bake about 25 minutes.