Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Bars embrace the laid back nature of summer. Made with desert-safe ingredients, enabling hot weather care package shipping as well as at home enjoyment, these bars have all of the crunchy, toasty-oat goodness of oatmeal cookies, in a time saving, easy to throw together, bar. Skip the scooping or rolling for individual cookies. One pan into the oven and these treats are done! Add in some colorful, homemade chocolate chips for a festive dessert. With red, white and blue chips, these Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Bars are party-ready for the 4th of July!
I have a knack of taking something simple, like these super simple oatmeal cookie bars, and turning it into a project. It’s not my fault that Nestle’s makes colored chips for Halloween, Christmas, and spring/Easter, but 4th of July chips are not to be found. Though I could have settled for plain but tasty, using just dark and white chocolate chips, I was looking for color. I used these bars in an Independence Day themed military care package and I wanted oatmeal bars that fit in to the patriotic color scheme.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve played with colored chips. I made pink chips for Raspberry White Chocolate Ribbon Cookies and a spectrum of colored chocolate chunks for Rainbow Chip Blondies. Since posting those recipes I have learned a little about coloring white chocolate. Most important is the food coloring used. In the past, I tried using regular food coloring. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time the melted chocolate gets grainy and dry. This seizing of the chocolate is due to the water in regular food coloring. Using candy coloring, which is oil based, results in smooth, creamy, colored chocolate every time.
Making homemade colored chips adds about an hour to the preparation time. Making colored chocolate chunks, rather than individually piped little chips, is a much faster method. The Rainbow Chip Blondie post includes photos and directions for making colored chocolate chunks. Color is added to melted white chocolate, spread on parchment paper into a thin rectangle, then once set, the rectangle is chopped into small chunks. Either method would work well for adding color to bars cookies.
To make the individually piped chips, place a coupler inside a disposable piping bag and fill with one cup of white chocolate discs. Seal the open end of the bag with a rubber band and screw on the outer coupler ring. The tip of the bag is NOT cut open at this point. Immerse the piping bag in a glass filled with hot water. When the chocolate is melted, remove the bag from the water and dry carefully. As mentioned before, if water gets into the chocolate, the chocolate will seize. Set the piping bag in a dry glass, remove the rubber band and fold the open end of the bag over the rim of the glass. Add candy coloring and stir with a butter knife. There will be a small amount of white chocolate at the tip that doesn’t get colored, but can still be used in the cookie bars. Once blended, reseal the open end of the bag with the rubber band. Cut off the pointed end of the bag and add a #4 small round piping tip. Pipe chips onto a small baking sheet lined with parchment. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate. The set chips will slide easily off the parchment when ready.
If you want colored chips that taste like real, creamy, vanilla, white chocolate, you have to use real white chocolate. Chopping up colored candy discs, will give you color, but not real white chocolate flavor. Don’t do it. If making homemade chips or chunks is not your thing, stick to traditional chocolate colors. I use Chocoley Candy and Molding white chocolate discs. The discs melt smoothly, set shiny, and most importantly add delicious, creamy, white chocolate flavor to my bars. During hot temperatures, Chocoley.com offers summer packaging in plastic tubs. The compound chocolate is formulated to be melted and set repeatedly without effecting the chocolate. Though the discs may melt in transit, the tubs keep the chocolate secure.
A batch of Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Bars will disappear quickly from cookie jars, picnic tables, and care packages. The combination of chocolate and oats in a crunchy bar is hard to resist. With homemade colored chips, these bars can be customized for any occasion.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups quick oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup butter flavored vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- (1 cup butter can be used in place of the vegetable shortening for non-desert safe use)
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups white chocolate chips (for 4th of July bars use ½ cup each red, white, and blue chips)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in eggs, water, and vanilla.
- Slowly add in flour mixture until combined.
- Spread the batter into a 9” x 13” pan. Lay a sheet of wax paper over the batter and use the palm of your hand to gently press the batter into an even layer.
- Bake for 18-23 minutes. The top will be set and a toothpick can be used to check for doneness. The bars will not brown. Over baking will result in a dry cookie.
- Cool completely on a wire rack, then turn out onto a cutting board to slice into bars.
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 10 days.