So, remember when Charlie left for Africa a-way back at the end of June?
Well, he’s back. Yay! However, there is a not-yay part.
Back in the spring, he tore his ACL and his meniscus (in a dancing competition…on a cruise ship…trust me, the story is as good as it sounds) but it went undiagnosed until right before he left for Africa. You’d think that couldn’t happen, right? That doctors with medical degrees couldn’t miss something like that? Yeah, I’m with you on that. But anyway, by the time they figured out that significant connective tissues were separating, he was already so close to leaving that the surgery had to be scheduled for when he returned. Welcome home…now let us cut you open.
See that? That’s a leg immobilizer. Also pictured: giant battery-powered ice cube (literally. We had to fill the cube up with ice every night and then plug it in so it’d keep supplying the part that wrapped around Charlie’s knee with coldness).
Being the girlfriend that I am, I of course had to come up with a treat that said both “Welcome home! Here’s a butter-sugar-flour explosion!” and “I hope this combines with the Percocet to numb your excruciating pain.” A monumental task. Luckily, Nicole over at Baking Bites gave me the perfect idea!
I’d had these Chocolate Revel Bars bookmarked for ages, and I was just waiting for an excuse to make them. Of the things I bake, Charlie’s favorite is definitely Magic Cookie Bars. I usually do ‘em with chocolate chunks, peanut butter chips, pecans, and a little extra coconut if I know the whole batch is going to him. Slight problem. On this particular evening, my baking cabinets contained…none of these things. However, I did have TONS of oats. Solution? Revel bars.
Charlie’s verdict? With his mouth full: “These are in the top five things you’ve ever baked.” The oatmeal cookie layers sandwiches what basically becomes chocolate fudge: my favorite thing about these bars is how rich and chewy that middle layer is. The walnuts added some nice crunch and texture to the top, too. It might be fun to riff on this recipe with whatever you have in your cabinet, the way you can do with Magic Cookie Bars (maybe a caramel layer in the middle with chocolate chips and pecans on top? Caramel Turtle Revel Bars!). I do think that next time I’d prefer the cookie layer on the bottom to be thicker than the one on the top–see my note at the bottom of the recipe for my explanation on that.
Chocolate Revel Bars
Adapted very slightly from Baking Bites
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature (divided into 7 tbsp and 1 tbsp)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
7 oz sweetened condensed milk (about half the can–I used a little bit more than this)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
(To toast walnuts, place them on a baking sheet in a 400 F oven for 5-7 minutes. They’ll come out warm and toasty and delicious!)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease (I used Pam Baking spray, which worked like a charm).
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour baking soda, salt, and oatmeal.
3. In a large bowl, cream together 7 tbsp of butter with brown sugar. Beat in egg and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract.
4. Add flour mixture and blend until well incorporated.
5. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 tbsp butter. Heat in 40-second intervals, stirring in the middle, until the mixture is smooth and melted. Then, stir in remaining 1 tsp vanilla extract.
6. Take 2 cups of cookie dough mixture and press it in an even layer into the bottom of your pan. Spread chocolate mixture evenly on top of the cookie dough layer.
7. Stir remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1 cup of walnuts into the rest of your cookie dough. Break dough into small chunks and distribute evenly on top of the chocolate layer. The chocolate won’t be completely covered–that’s okay!
8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. The chocolate will look shiny and wet, but it’ll cool down fine.
9. Cool completely in pan (mine actually had to cool overnight), then slice.
Makes 20-25 squares.
Nicole’s original recipe says to press 1 1/2 cups of dough into the bottom of the pan, but I found myself wishing the bottom cookie layer were thicker. I upped the amount in my recipe, since I’d prefer to have more cookie in the foundation of these bars and more chocolate peeking through a top layer that’s more crumb-like.
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