Just the name of this recipe, “Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars” is enough to take me back to my days in elementary school. And while I don’t specifically remember a lunchroom treat like this one, the words “Lunch Lady” takes me back to the Multi-Purpose Room where we would eat our lunches at Union Lake Elementary. There was a stage on one end of the room and the floor was green. This room served not only as a lunch room, complete with that distinct school lunch room aroma, but as a PTA meeting room, a school assembly room, a Brownies and Girl Scouts meeting room, a gym (the knotted climbing ropes were attached to the ceiling. I could never get past the third knot on those ropes and I had a huge fear of heights so touching the ceiling was never going to happen for me.), and a theater (we did the Prince and the Pauper in the 6th grade). And then there was Ruth. Blowing her whistle and yelling “ 5 minutes! Eat your lunches!” She was kind of mean. And you didn’t want to accidentally spill your milk because there were verbal consequences when you did . She terrified me!
Ok, I’m back. Started to drift off there for a minute down memory lane. :)
These bars are definitely NOT what you would call a low carb” dessert. But oh my, are these a tasty treat! There are a multitude of recipes for these bars floating around on Pinterest and they have been tempting me to give them a try for quite a while. The recipe I decided to go with came from the blog Tried and Tried Again. I made these last night after getting the bug to bake. They took about an hour so they are not what you would call quick and there are three steps to them so I wouldn’t come right out and say they are easy but really, they are. They just take a bit of time. Definitely worth it.
Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars
1 1/2 cups Flour
1¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ cup Butter
¾ cup Sugar
¾ cup Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Creamy Peanut Butter total. (You will divide in half into two 3/4 cups.)
1 ½ cups Quick Oats
½ cup Butter (1 stick)
3 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp. Cocoa
¼ cup Milk (I used some half and half )
1 tsp. Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, 3/4 C peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Then, stir in the oats. Spread onto a greased 11 x 15 Jelly Roll Pan (cookie sheet). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes.
The icing is a two step process. First, whip the remaining ¾ cup creamy peanut butter until it becomes light in color and fluffy. Carefully spread the whipped peanut butter over the cooled pan.
In a small sauce pan on top of the stove, melt the butter. Add the milk and cocoa and whisk it in to make sure it is well incorporated and to reduce the lumps of cocoa. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Heat just until boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Then, gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir until thickened. Pour over the peanut butter and gently spread over the pad of cookie bars. Cool completely, and slice into bar cookies.
This recipe makes a huge cookie sheet of bars. I cut mine into 24 individual squares. They are Very rich. The men in my house loved them and I would definitely consider these bars man sized. I loved them too but I think if you were going to serve them at an event with a lot of women, I would cut each of the bars again into 4 mini squares. Ladies don’t like to take a huge bar of anything but if you cut them up into dainty little pieces they will disappear!
Those lunch ladies knew what they were doing. Put some chocolate icing on a peanut butter bar, sneak in some oatmeal to make it a teensy bit healthier and to stretch the recipe out because after all, they had a lot of mouths to feed, and a legendary elementary school memory was created. How about you? Do you remember a dessert treat like this from your elementary school days? Did your cafeteria have a Ruth with a whistle?