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baking prep

"patricia egler's" fudge nut bars

In the world of Things That Are Dangerous for Me to Bake, these fudge nut bars might just slide in at spot #1. These were a staple dessert of our childhood and I don't think I can recall a single occasion where we didn't have to be chased away from the mixing bowl before we ate all the dough raw. We were like little vultures. But seriously, the brown sugar and oatmeal combination is hopelessly addicting. I still have to ration myself or I won't have enough left to line the pan.

We found the original recipe in our local newspaper who knows how long ago, but (like all our recipes) it's evolved from the original state and I have a feeling we all make it slightly differently now, even though we have all the same alterations penciled into our recipe books. Still, they are always "Patricia Egler's Fudge Nut Bars," no matter how we make them, and Patricia Egler (whoever she is) lives on.

These check so many boxes for me. The oatmeal dough packs a deep, rich nuttiness into the base and the fudge layer is wonderfully silky. We've darkened the chocolate over the years from the original recipe and I think that's the extra magic that sets these apart from other fudge nut bars I've eaten. I will always opt for dark chocolate over milk, especially in a recipe with additional sweetness (the condensed milk in this case) that needs the slight bitterness of a 60% cacao to balance it out.

They call for walnuts in the recipe, but honestly I don't think we've ever put those in. I'll leave the quantity in the recipe below so you can decide for yourself whether you want the "nut" part of the fudge nut bars or just the fudgy oatmealy goodness. My sister tells a story about how she brought these to work one time and a friend walked by to say, "You Evanses... you can even make oatmeal taste good."

So on that note of praise, let's make some tasty!


patricia egler's fudge nut bars

serves ~24


1 cup butter 2 cups brown sugar, packed 2 eggs 2 tsp vanilla 2½ cups sifted flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 3 cups quick oats

12 oz dark chocolate chips (I use 60% bittersweet) 2 squares unsweetened baker's chocolate 1 can sweetened condensed milk 2 TB butter ½ tsp salt 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) 2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 15½" x 10½" x 1" sheet cake pan.

  2. In a large bowl or standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

  4. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and oats to the creamed mixture and mix until evenly combined.

  5. In a double boiler, combine the chocolate pieces, condensed milk, butter, and salt, stirring constantly until the chocolate has melted.

  6. Remove from the heat and add walnuts (if using) and vanilla.

  7. Spread ⅔ of the oatmeal dough into the prepared sheet cake pan, being sure to press it into the corners and cover the pan evenly.

  8. Pour the fudge over the filling. If needed, spread the fudge with a spatula to be sure it covers the oatmeal base completely.

  9. Dot the fudge with chunks of the remaining oatmeal dough.

  10. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until done. Cool and then cut into bars.

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Pick varieties and flavors that bring you joy. Not everyone is a baker and not everyone likes to cook. 


Enjoy the process. One of my favorite things while baking is to knead the dough and feel how it changes in my hands. I love chopping vegetables that came fresh from the farmer's market, brushing the dirt off the leaves, and creating with something that came from the earth.


Listen to jazz. I know this is a personal preference, but there are few things that give me quite the feeling of contentment as cooking a good meal with a glass of wine and a Thelonius record on in the background.

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