Chocolate Oat Bars

chocolate oat bars

I’ve always suspected that I’m part horse. I could eat oats everyday and never tire of them. I’m not sure if horses like chocolate, but if they do, they’ll love these bars. However, while mixing up these easy, yummy bars, I had one of those moments when I was knocked off my high horse, so to speak.

blend in butter

press crumbs into pan

Let me explain. My mother has always hated housework. Growing up she plastered little signs around the house that said things like, “Dull people live in immaculate houses.” Her housekeeping style was “What you see is what you get.” She also never really enjoyed cooking or buying groceries.

My father, however, has a shopping fetish and LOVES to buy groceries. He always did. So he buys groceries and buys groceries until the cupboards shelves are heaving from the weight of canned corn, pasta sauces and brownie mixes. Then usually one of us “grown kids” (read: old ladies) will go in and thin the herd; pitching out-of-date items and taking others to a food pantry for the needy. When this chore has fallen to me, I’ve been amazed to find foods that had passed their expiration date by five or more years. I pride myself (uh oh – all sin begins with pride) on having a pantry where foods are labeled and rotated and life is tidy…not immaculate, but tidy. (I don’t want to be accused of being dull.)

ewewweeww-that's just not right

So while I was making these bars, I opened a can of condensed sweet milk and found brown muck instead. I peered at the expiration date barely visible on the bottom of the can and discovered the milk expired in 2005 – seven years ago! Seven. The worst part is that my husband was there to witness the humiliation and laughed at how THAT could have happened. A little humiliation is good for the Holy Week soul, I guess. And yes, I can hear my mother howling as she reads this.

pour on fresh condensed milk

press in chocolate chips

Have no fear, I pitched that can and found one with some life left in it and finished making these bars.
This recipe is from “Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking,” 2011.


Ingredients for crust
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup (1 stick) butter

last few crumbs on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Whisk the dry ingredients together.
Cut in the butter until the crust is crumbly.
Save out ½ cup of the oat mixture.
Press remaining mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Bake 10 minutes.

sweet crunchy chocolatey

Ingredients for the filling on top
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark.)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts.)

Directions to finish bars
Take pan out of oven after crust has baked ten minutes.
Pour milk evenly over hot crust.
Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and then the nuts.
Sprinkle on the reserved oat mixture and press firmly.
Bake another 25 – 30 minutes.

caramel like bonus

The condensed milk will creep up over the edges of the bars as they bake and create a sort of caramel topping in places. This is a bonus to the crunchy, sweet oat and chocolate flavors. Even if you’re not related to a horse, you’ll enjoy this delicious bar.

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