For the first time in the history of this blog, I’m featuring a recipe straight from my childhood:
Mock Baby Ruth Bars.
My mother sent me a handful of her old recipes (by taking pictures of the time-worn recipe cards and sending them via text – hooray for technology!) and she made a point to tell me that my father and I used to love these Baby Ruth bars in particular.
The idea of that pulled at my heart strings, since my father has been gone three years this month, but when I read over the recipe ingredients… it didn’t ring a bell. At all. I had absolutely no recollection of eating anything like this before.
I had absolutely no recollection of eating anything like this before.
Naturally my curiosity got the better of me, so I put the Mock Baby Ruth Bars at the top of my “to make” list. It helped that I already had all the ingredients on hand to make them, including the not-so-common butterscotch chips. I remember purchasing the butterscotch a few months ago with the intention of making a different recipe, but I’ve been dragging my feet about it because for some reason I had it in my head that I “wasn’t a big fan” of butterscotch. And that doesn’t mean I dislike butterscotch – honestly I have no idea when, how, or why I even formed an opinion on it – but I just don’t get as excited about butterscotch as, say, anything dipped in chocolate. And seeing as this recipe has both chocolate and peanut butter in it as well, I figured that’d be more than enough to help me through any issues I might have with the butterscotch.
So there I was, with all of the ingredients spread out on my counter in a somewhat organized mess, and I reach for the bag of butterscotch chips. I’m hardly paying attention as I tear open the bag, but when the seal breaks and the smell hits me… so do all of the memories. Images like the color of the counter tops in my parent’s kitchen, and my mother’s hands holding chips that look just like the ones in the bag, and seeing a bag of butterscotch chips buried in the back of our old “cooking cabinet” back home. It’s funny, but it wasn’t until that moment that I realized I had organized my kitchen in a similar way that my mother had organized hers.
I’ve heard that smells can trigger memories, but I never imagined it would be quite like this. I just wanted to bury my face in the bag to get more of it, as if nostalgia was something I could eat. Which, apparently, I guess I could in this case.
By this point I was pretty excited, so I rushed through the steps of the recipe, using all the shortcuts I could think of – which basically means I microwaved everything (no fancy saucepans this time around) and set the dish in the freezer so that the topping would solidify that much faster.
When I finally did get to taste test one one of these bars, I immediately learned three things:
1 – These bars get their name for the chocolate / butterscotch / peanut butter flavor mix they share with a Baby Ruth, but the similarities stop there – although, my mother stressed that they taste much better if you use chunky peanut butter instead of creamy. I’ll have to go that route next time.
2 – While these bars aren’t exactly like a Baby Ruth, they are similar to no bake cookies – but just much, much better. I finally know why I was so crazy obsessed with no bake cookies the first time I tried them, and it’s because these bars came first. Somehow the Mock Baby Ruth Bars were lost in my memory and no bake cookies showed up and took their place. So I’m sorry my beloved no-bake cookies, but the title of my favorite snack dessert has now been returned to its rightful owner.
3 – Turns out I don’t have a problem with butterscotch after all. Apparently I kind of love it.
I never did ask my mother where she got this recipe, but if I had to guess, it probably came from a popular magazine or maybe even a show on TV from wayyy back in the 1980’s. So if you’re a child of the 80’s like me, you might already be a fan of these bars. Which is just another reason why being a kid was pretty awesome back then, amiright? Because we had food like this!
The internet and Pinterest have turned most desserts into complicated works of art, but I think there’s still plenty to appreciate about the simple, classic recipes. Cause I mean, when you can make delicious chewy bars of candy with hardly any effort, who cares if it’s trending or a “must make” recipe of 2015? When it’s good, it’s just good. Enjoy it, share it – and then make some more.
Mock Baby Ruth Bars
For the Oatmeal Cookie Base
In a large microwave safe bowl, add butter and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Whisk butter until it's completely melted with no clumps.
- Add the following ingredients to the butter, whisking inbetween: brown sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Finish by folding in the oatmeal with a spatula, making sure it's thoroughly mixed.
Pour oatmeal mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the oatmeal out into a thick, even layer. Set dish aside.
For the Chocolate Butterscotch Topping
- In another small microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir chips. If needed, microwave for another 30 seconds, then stir chips again. When chips have melted, add in peanut butter, whisking together until smooth.
Pour chocolate butterscotch topping over oatmeal layer. Use a spatula to spread the topping so that it completely covers the oatmeal.
- Let stand in the refrigerator until topping solidifies, roughly 2 hours. For a faster set time, place the dish in the freezer for 1 hour. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut bars. Run a thin spatula or knife under bars before removing from pan. For best results, store bars in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to eat.