Banana chocolate-chip bars

May 4, 2011

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Makes 24

My mother, Jean Nelson, says that if you ever need to get your kids to talk to you, serve these bars with milk after school. “They have a truth serum effect,’’ she says. She clipped the recipe from the Des Moines Register, her hometown newspaper, “but heaven only knows when.’’ You need at least one ripe banana; if you have more, use up to 1 cup, she says. “It just makes the bars more moist.’’

Butter (for the pan)
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 banana)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

2. In a bowl, beat the butter and oil until well blended. Add the brown sugar and mix well. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3. Add the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, chips, banana, and nuts, if using. Mix well.

4. Spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool.

5. Make 3 vertical cuts and 5 horizontal cuts to form 24 bars. Store in an airtight container.

Anne V. Nelson