Chocolate Almond Oat Bars

I've kept a little secret from you for much too long. A year has passed, over a hundred recipes have been shared, and still I haven't said a word. It's about time I confess. If you've been following for awhile, you may have even picked up on it. Can you guess what it is?

I'm allergic to tree nuts.

I'll admit, it's a little (a lot) ironic for a baker. Tree nuts are an anchor for most bakers. They are the backbone to many, many delicious baked goods. Yet, this secret world of nuts will be forever lost on me. Hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashewsβ€”I will never know their unique flavors. No sticky, gooey pecan pie at Thanksgiving. No rich, moist carrot cakes or warm banana bread sprinkled with walnuts. Perhaps most devastating of all, I will never get to enjoy a thick spread of nutella on a warm piece of toast (well, not unless I want to end up in the emergency room).

Now that's a real shame.

I have come to terms with this over the years. It wasn't hard. To some extent, you can't miss what you've never had. I can dream about hazelnut crusts, nutella brownies, or white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, especially when other food bloggers flaunt these beautiful photos in my face, but I can't imagine these tastes so they become the stuff of far off dreams. Occasionally, I will smell a jar of nutella and become wistful, but that's as tragic as my story gets.

Also, that's a little weird, isn't it? Perhaps that's one confession too far...

Now that I've shared this not-so-classified information, you're probably wondering why on earth I just made chocolate almond oat bars. I'd wonder, too. For some unknown (but miraculously delicious) reason, I am not allergic to almonds, despite the fact that I am deathly allergic to the other tree nuts. My reasoning is that almonds are the most mild of the tree nuts and are more related to fruits (like the peach) than to the other tree nuts. In fact, almonds grown from undomesticated almond trees actually have small amounts of cyanide in them just like peach pits. Regardless, I don't plan to question my almond invincibility. I wouldn't want to jinx it.

Confessing my tree nut allergy isn't going to change anything around here. I fully intend to keep sharing my love for chocolate and decadent desserts. Just don't come looking to me for a recipe for pistachio pudding.

These Chocolate Almond Oat Bars are the very definition of addictive. They are soft, gooey, and I-can't-stop-eating-them-please-hide-them-from-me delicious. I was inspired to make these from the Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies I made recently. The combination of oats, chocolate, and almonds in the cookie was so uniquely delicious, I wanted to try out the medley with another dessert. These do not disappoint. As several of my taste testers said, "These are good. Too good."

One Year Ago: Twix Cookies

Chocolate Almond Oat Bars
Adapted from the Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds (or other nut of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter. Mix until evenly incorporated. Reserve 1/2 cup of oat mixture. Press the rest evenly into a 9 x 13" pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Pour sweetened condensed milk on top of cookie base and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, sliced almonds, and reserved oats. Bake an additional 25-30 minutes, or until bars are lightly browned.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.