When I was a kid we didn't have "lunch ladies" in our school cafeteria. We had COOKS. Sturdy ladies in large aprons who filled the halls of the school with the aroma of rolls baking all morning and who whipped real potatoes in a huge mixer that stood on the floor. There were no pre-packaged chicken nuggets getting heated up and thrown on a plastic tray, we had real food served up on glass plates that made a loud crash if you were the poor kid having a bad day who dropped his tray on the floor. I was reminiscing about school lunch after I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Fingers while looking for ideas to make a dessert for a family function. Peanut Butter Fingers were one of the home made treats we often had beside our potatoes and hamburger gravy or made from scratch chili, and once I made these treats it really took me back to the school cafeteria.
The family function I was baking for today is my parent's mission farewell. Tomorrow after church they will have a houseful of people at their house for lunch and to tell them goodbye as they embark on a big adventure together. They'll be going to Quezon City in the Philippines for 18 months to serve an LDS mission. When I said I would bring dessert for this event I thought it was going to be mainly for our family, but as time went on and my mother invited more and more people I had to find something to feed over fifty people. A couple of batches of these treats are what I made, since each tray can be cut into more than 30 cookies (depending on how big you want to make them).
As I think about my parents going so far away for so long I again feel like the awkward and skinny redhead who found comfort in those old fashioned school lunches. Just as I was strengthened by some of the rejection and loneliness every shy kid goes through, I will grow through the separation from my parents and be enriched by their experiences.
Make these peanut butter treats and think back on your own school days. And give your parents a hug.
PEANUT BUTTER FINGERS
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
4+ tablespoons milk
- Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the peanut butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla, baking soda and salt. Add the four and oats and mix well.
- Pat dough evenly into a greased 15 inch x 10 inchx 1 inch baking pan (jelly roll pan or deep cookie sheet with sides).
- Bake at 325 degrees for 18 minutes. Take out of the oven and immediately sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Return to the oven for two minutes. Remove from oven again and let cool two minutes. Spread the softened chocolate chips evenly over the top.
- For glaze, beat the peanut butter and sugar. Add enough milk to make a spreading consistency. Spread over the warm bars.