Sweet tart oat nut bars. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)
Ronna Ballister of Altadena was one of the 10 winners of last year's Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with her sweet tart oat nut bars:
"I found this recipe many years ago on the back of a bag of prunes. I tried it and I realized after the first batch that they were irresistible. But then we moved and the recipe got lost in the shuffle. I went 20 years without being able to make them. I wrote to the prune company, I searched the Internet, I couldn't find them. Then one day I was going through a box of old family photos and there they were. It was like a family reunion."
These festive cookies are one of the favorite holiday cookie recipes we've collected in our updated "Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies" e-book. The cookbook now includes 65 recipes from a wide range of sources, including world-famous pastry chefs, favorite bakeries and home cooks. And check out the favorite holiday recipes we've collected in our "Los Angeles Times Holiday Handbook." The book shares more than 110 seasonal recipes to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.
Each book is $4.99. They are available at the Los Angeles Times bookstore for Kindle, Nook and iBooks.
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Sweet tart oat nut bars
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus cooling time for the bars
Servings: Makes about 4 dozen bars
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Ronna Ballister
12 ounces (about 2 cups) pitted prunes, chopped
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) softened butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, or in a blender, pulse the prunes and orange juice until almost smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl, and stir in the nuts.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and honey. Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking soda and wheat germ (if using). Slowly beat in the flour and oats until evenly combined.
4. Spread a scant half of the oat mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with the prune mixture, spreading it evenly to within one-half inch of the edges of the pan. Crumble the remaining batter over the top of the prune layer and pat down gently.
5. Bake the bars until browned and the top springs back when touched, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the pan on a wire rack, then cut into bars.
Each of 4 dozen bars: 96 calories; 1 gram protein; 15 carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 12 mg cholesterol; 8 grams sugar; 54 mg sodium.