A cross between oatmeal cookies and fudge squares, chocolate revel bars are the perfect, practical dessert for a crowd.
These fudgey oatmeal cookie bars, cut into their distinct diamond shapes, have reached a near-legendary status in my family. Chocolate Revel Bars are rich and chewy with a thick ribbon — no, a layer — of nutty chocolate fudge through the middle. No matter where you bring them you'll be sure to have at least one person asking for the recipe; If you're the kind of person who loves getting compliments, this is the dessert for you.
I can't remember the first time my dad made Chocolate Revel Bars; They've been a fixture of family dinner parties and events for as long as I can remember. He found the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Cake & Cookie Recipes book (the recipe is currently on their website, but it's slightly different from the one in the book).
What I do remember is watching, transfixed as he flattened fistfuls of oatmeal dough in an even layer across the bottom of a sheet pan with the efficiency of a bricklayer, the shiny chocolate fudge being spread to every corner with a few deft swipes of a spatula, and the rest of the oatmeal dough chunking down across the shiny chocolate surface with satisfying little thuds.
Most significantly, I remember the way people's eyelids drifted closed and their quiet mmms of approval with every bite.
Not only are Chocolate Revel Bars wildly popular, they're also incredibly practical: The recipe comes together in under an hour and uses primarily shelf-stable ingredients (butter and eggs excepted). My dad hasn't had to make them in years, but he still keeps a can of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry just in case.
They're perfect for when you need something at the last minute, but they're so good you'll plan ahead to make them pretty much as soon as your last batch is gone.
how to make chocolate revel bars
I'm not actually sure you're ready for just how simple this recipe is. Are you ready? Are you sure? Okay, let's go.
First, mix your dry ingredients in a bowl. Then, add the dry ingredients to your well-beaten wet ingredients and stir until combined. Melt your semi-sweet chocolate chips and sweetened-condensed milk together in a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Then, stir vanilla (mandatory) and finely chopped walnuts (optional) into the chocolate.
Use your hands to press two-thirds of the dough into an even layer in a greased sheet pan (15x10" or 18x13"). Then pour the melted chocolate overtop, spreading it into all the corners and edges. Finally, tear the remaining one third of the oatmeal mixture into chunks and dot them all over the surface of the chocolate. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F.
Once it's cooled, you can slice it up and serve. It really is just that simple.
Note: While I've spent pretty much every other recipe talking up the importance of using a kitchen scale for precision, in this case you're fine to just use your measuring cups. I do use my kitchen scale for the flour (300g) but honestly — as long as you don't tightly pack the flour into your measuring cups you'll be fine.
that distinct diamond shape
Better Homes and Gardens says to cut your Chocolate Revel Bars into rectangles, so I'm not sure where my dad got the idea to cut them into diamonds. He can't remember, either. But... I honestly can't imagine eating them any other way. These are dense, heavy, rich, gooey, lumpy bars, and there's just something elegant about the diamond-like shape that just makes them feel fancy.
To get the diamond shape, you'll first cut straight vertical lines parallel to the long side of your cookie sheet. Depending on the size of your sheet and how big you want these to be, you may need 5-7 vertical lines. I find you always need them to be just a little closer together than you think, since the length of the bars comes from the diagonal shape.
Note: Use a serrated knife, and run it under very hot water (and dry it off) before slicing. The fudge gets sticky as it cools and a hot knife makes it easier to cut. You may need to wipe your knife off with a hot towel or under hot water a few times while cutting.
Once you've cut your vertical lines, you'll cut diagonally across the sheet from one corner to the other. That will help you figure out the right angle for the rest of your diagonal cuts, so that they're as uniform as possible. That said, part of the joy of these is their irregular sizes and shapes so don't sweat it too much if they're slightly off.
adapting for different pan sizes
Unlike drop cookies which need space to spread out without touching, or brownies which usually bake in a 9x9" square pan, Chocolate Revel Bars fill every last nook and cranny of a 15x10" or 18x13" cookie sheet. Depending on how big or small you cut them, you could end up with anywhere from 50-80 bars.
If you want to make these in a slightly smaller batch, you can cut the recipe down and use pretty much any sheet-style pan to bake them. Use 9x9" square pans or 8" round cake pans if that's what you've got.
Or, you can do what I did and bake Chocolate Revel Bars in your favorite 9" removable-bottom tart pan.
The tart pan method worked, but it didn't work nearly as well as I'd hoped. Don't get me wrong, it still produced a delicious and rich and decadent dessert that had people clamoring for the recipe. But this is definitely a recipe built for a sheet pan. The baking soda in the crust means the oatmeal dough expands in the tart pan, and the chocolate fudge is so rich that without the really big chunks of oatmeal dough to displace some of it, you'll find yourself craving a big glass of milk after every bite.
I'm going to do some tinkering with the recipe to make it work for a tart pan and I'll post more about that when I've worked out the kinks. In the meantime, just know you could bake it in a tart pan if you wanted to.
freezing chocolate revel bars
To freeze, break the bars apart first and arrange them on a cookie sheet in the freezer so they aren't touching each other. Once they're frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag or storage container and keep them in the freezer. (If you freeze them before you cut them, they'll be impossible to cut later. If you freeze them all together in a bag, the chocolate fudge layers will freeze to each other and also make them hard to break apart later.)
chewy chocolate revel bars
oatmeal cookie mixture
- 300 grams QUICK COOKING rolled oats (3 cups)
- 300 grams all-purpose flour
- 227 grams unsalted butter (1 cup, at room temperature)
- 300 grams brown sugar (1½ cups packed, light or dark)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon (or ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts (chopped, optional)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Combine dry ingredients (except brown sugar) in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Cream butter using the paddle attachment on your mixer approximately 30 seconds until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light, fluffy, and well mixed. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add vanilla and beat again until well-combined.
- Stir the dry mixture into the butter, working in batches to give the dry ingredients time to absorb and incorporate. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Grease a half sheet pan and line with parchment paper (optional).
- Use your hands to firmly press approximately ⅔ of the oatmeal mixture into a very thin even layer at the bottom of the pan, making sure to get into all four corners. Use a small offset spatula to prevent a lip from forming at the edges of the pan. Set aside.
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, salt, and butter. Continue stirring until no lumps left and remain and the chocolate is shiny and smooth. Adjust burner as needed, stirring frequently to prevent chocolate from burning.
- Turn off the heat, stir in walnuts and vanilla.
- Pour chocolate mixture across the surface of the oatmeal layer in the pan, using a spatula to gently push it into all the corners right to the edge of the sheet pan.
- Use your hands to tear, crumble, and pinch the remaining oatmeal dough, dropping it in chunks across the chocolate fudge. Try to get some variety in size between chunks.
- Bake in 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. The chocolate fudge will likely still look a little molten.
- Let the tray cool almost completely on a wire rack before cutting into diamonds. To get the diamond shape: cut 5-7 straight lines lengthwise down the sheet tray, then cut across those lines in a diagonal, starting with a corner-to-corner cut to make it easier to replicate the correct angle as you make the rest of your cuts. The diagonal cuts should be about 2″ apart.
- The bars can be a bit tricky and stubborn to remove from the pan. I recommend starting with the odd-shaped edge pieces and then working your way toward the center.
- To freeze, first break the bars apart first and arrange them on a cookie sheet in the freezer so they aren’t touching each other. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or storage container and keep them in the freezer.
- Use a serrated knife, and run it under very hot water (and dry it off) before slicing. The fudge gets sticky as it cools and a hot knife makes it easier to cut. You may need to wipe your knife off with a hot towel or under hot water a few times while cutting.
- If you have leftover fudge (unlikely) you can refrigerate it in a glass jar and use it as hot fudge for ice cream. It will solidify in the fridge but you can use a double boiler or place the jar in hot (not boiling) water to bring it back to its melty, fudgey state.
- If you're worried about the bars being stuck in the pan you can line the bottom with a sheet of greased parchment paper. Just make sure there's no crinkled edges sticking up — the parchment paper should lie completely flat in the bottom of the pan.