Let me introduce the easiest chocolate walnut oat bars. And so yummy!.
I don’t know where you live, but people here go nuts for anything sweet made with oats. Add chocolate and you have a winning combination. Add dulce de leche and well, they start crushing on you.
This recipe for oat bars hails back to the 80’s. I ripped a recipe from a magazine and pasted it on a blank page in my recipes binder. Yes, I used to have a very sophisticated way of archiving my recipes when I was a teenager, school type black binder with white pages. Hence the name Vintage Kitchen.
The thing is that it made into the 21st century, internet and all, and definitely holds its place. I still have the black binder, of course, and have made many recipes from it that turned out amazing. I have a lot of crap recipes too, of course.
Did I mention they also have dulce de leche? Talk about a synergy of ingredients!.
What is dulce de leche?
Dulce de leche when translated means milk jam, and it is that, basically. Milk and sugar are boiled for a few hours until they turn syrupy and thicken. Baking soda is added to give it that caramel color.
And that’s it, milk jam.
Dulce de leche substitutions
Dulce de leche can be easily substituted with caramel, either homemade or store-bought.
I use dulce de leche instead of caramel a lot because it’s so readily available here (Buenos Aires), but caramel was the original ingredient. The idea is to add an extra layer of sweetness. I think a good – homemade anyone? – raspberry jam might work too. We all know how good chocolate and raspberries are, don’t we?.
I have made this as a last minute barbecue dessert and for crowdy events like family birthday reunions. Talk about easy, fast and crowd-pleasing!. All boxes checked.
- 2 cups 270g all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 180g traditional oats
- 1 cup 200g packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup 225g unsalted butter, melted
- 10 oz. 280g semi-sweet chocolate, chips or chunks
- 1 1/4 cups 150g walnuts, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups 300g dulce de leche or thick caramel sauce
- Preheat oven at 350ºF / 180ºC.
- Spray or butter a 12x8-inch (20x30cm) pan and line bottom and two wider sides with a strip of wax or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl mix flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- Add melted butter and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until it’s all wet, no dry parts remaining.
- Reserve 1 1/2 cups of this mixture, and press the remaining onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until it starts to dry and color a bit.
- Take it out of the oven and immediately scatter the chocolate chunks over the hot base.
- Spread with a spoon or spatula and sprinkle chopped walnuts evenly on top.
- Add the dulce de leche or caramel by spoonfuls on top of the walnuts. It will not cover the whole surface. That’s OK.
- Scatter the reserved 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal mixture and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until it bubbles and starts to color.
- When you take it out of the oven, run a smooth knife along the sides to separate any dulce de leche that might have stuck and make it hard to unmold later.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Lift the paper to take out the whole block from the pan and cut into squares or rectangles.