I first had something like these Chocolate Oat Bars at the Lafayette Square farmer's market in St. Louis. They were amazing. Hearty yet decadent. I adored them.
I first made this as recipe #116 for my 365 Recipe Challenge back in 2010. I hadn't made them since, but I certainly hadn't forgotten about them. I suppose I only focused on new things, rather than revisiting old recipes (aside from my absolute favorites).
But no more. Today as I near the end of one batch, I consider making another. I'm addicted.
When I made these 9 years ago, I raved about them - gooey fudge made with sweetened condensed milk, sandwiched between layers of oatmeal cookie. The heartiness of the oatmeal cuts through the richness of the fudge. The top cookie crisps up, while the bottom layer stays chewy. Perfect.
They're really not difficult to make, and so are going to be on a regular rotation in my house from here on out.
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How to Make Chocolate Oat Bars
This recipe happens to be called chocolate oat bars (or squares, as Taste of Home called them), but you might know them as chocolate revel bars, or even something else.
Like I said, these bars are chocolate fudge sandwiched between layers of oatmeal cookie. And when you make squares or bars, you get this effect without having to make individual cookies, so your baking goes much more quickly.
First you make your oatmeal cookie dough. Cream together butter, brown sugar (light and dark are both okay) until it's creamy and fluffy, then add your eggs and vanilla.
Use your mixer to gradually stir in your dry ingredients. This is a larger-than-usual amount of cookie dough, so add them in batches. Stir until it's just combined.
Pat ⅔ of the dough into a greased 15x11 inch jelly roll pan .
Head to your stove and combine sweetened condensed milk with a bag of chocolate chips and some more butter and salt. Heat on low and stir until it's all melted together, then stir in vanilla.
Spread your fudge on the cookie dough in the pan. You can spread it to the edges if you've greased the sides of your pan very well, but the fudge might stick; otherwise, try to get as close as you can without letting it touch.
Top with the remaining cookie dough, then bake.
They'll be golden brown when done. Trust me - don't overbake! There's no toothpick test here. Let cool a little before cutting.Jump to Recipe
Ingredients are pretty simple for the cookie part. It's simply an oversized recipe for oatmeal cookies, and it's made in the usual way.
I used quick oats here, but regular old-fashioned rolled oats should work too; it'll just be a slightly different texture. Do not use instant or steel cut oats.
The fudge layer calls for sweetened condensed milk. This is shelf-stable, pre-sweetened, thickened milk that I've always seen in a 14-ounce can. It is not the same as evaporated milk, which is unsweetened, thinner, and comes in different sized and shaped can.
You can find sweetened condensed milk at most grocery stores. Target, Walmart, Aldi, and most other stores have a store-brand that is considerably cheaper than name brand. I usually buy the full-fat stuff instead of the low-fat version.
I've professed my love of Ghirardelli chocolate chips before, but honestly, any store-brand chocolate chips will work as long as they're actual chocolate. I used some from Aldi when I made this recipe.Jump to Recipe
Serving Chocolate Oat Bars
I took some to work when I first made these 9 years ago, and they received very high praise. One coworker told me she didn't expect me to make something like that - something so rich. I suppose I used to hoard all the really sweet and decadent things. (Now I give them away so I can make other sweet and decadent things.)
The oat layers cut through the sweetness of the chocolate a little bit, so your stomach doesn't get as much of a shock from the richness.
Since they have oats, I've been having a few bites of when I get up in the mornings. (Oats are for breakfast, right?) Perhaps not the healthiest move, but it certainly brightens the morning.
Since this recipe is made in a larger jelly roll pan , it's the perfect dessert to feed a crowd. You can cut it into 24 large squares, or 48 smaller bars. They're still rich and chocolatey, so one will be sad with half-sized bars.
I can't recommend these enough. It's worth getting your hands a little messy, and they're really not difficult, aside from making layers. And since it also makes a lot of squares, you've got plenty for home and lots to share.
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In the past:
One Year Ago: Alton Brown's Pina Colada Waffles
Two Years Ago: Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
Five Years Ago: Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Six Years Ago: Lemon Raspberry Muffins
Seven Years Ago: Apple and Pear Scones
Gooey fudge made with sweetened condensed milk, sandwiched between layers of oatmeal cookie, make these chocolate oat bars addictive!
- 16 tablespoons butter (215 grams) (softened)
- 2 cups brown sugar (426 grams)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (10 grams)
- 3 cups quick oats (240 grams) (old-fashioned rolled oats are okay too)
- 2 ½ cups flour (300 grams)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
- 2 cups chocolate chips (12 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons butter (28 grams)
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
With an electric mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla to combine.
Add the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda in 2-3 stages. (It's a large amount of dough, so this helps it mix in.) Mix until just combined.
Pat ⅔ of the cookie dough into a greased 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, salt, and 2 tablespoons butter. Stir constantly over low heat until everything is melted and smooth. (You don't want it to burn on bottom.) Remove it from heat and add the 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Spread the chocolate fudge over the cookie dough in the pan, getting it as close to the edges as you can without it touching.
Top the fudge with the remaining cookie dough. (This can take me a while because I want it spread out finely, not clumpy - but you shouldn't be so picky like me!)
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. (Check on the early side if you want them softer.) Cool some before cutting.
These bars are very rich. Feel free to cut them into 48 bars instead of 24.
Both quick and old-fashioned oats work here. Do not use instant or steel-cut oats.
Be sure to get a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. Do not use evaporated milk, which is thin and has no additional sugar.
Store these in an airtight container. Like most cookies, they're best for the first day or two. That said, they're still good on day 3, and will continue to last for days but will become more crumbly the longer you store them.
This recipe was adapted from Taste of Home.
[Originally published May 15, 2010. Updated text, photos, and recipe in September 2019.]