28 May 2010

Chocolate Revel Bars

Revel Bars (with title)
"You put too much meaning into things," a friend of mine once told me good-naturedly (and with a touch of concern). I didn't disagree. It was my thing, even though I tried so blessed hard for it not to be a thing with me. For better or for worse, it's how my brain is wired. And to be honest, it's a really difficult way to go through life, especially when your friends do a lot of things that don't really have any motivation or agenda. It always has to be about something with me.

Revel Bars (top view)
Rather than let my racing thoughts on what people feel or think about me eat me up, it's much easier to believe that at any given moment, people are in fact not thinking of me or my feelings or whatnot. And really, why would anyone, right? It worked a little too well, however, and my own friends started to think I was harder than I was (which, as readers of this blog, you may have inferred is totally the opposite of what I am). They were used to the sarcasm and they mistakenly expected cynicism (a quality I hate), and didn't think I cried or showed any sentimentality. I hid those well.

Those who've been able to walk into my room, however, would find a different me, and every drawer and shelf has something with significant meaning. Thank-you cards, letters, pictures - I treasure them all. There's even a Christmas greeting from a close friend written on a Christmas lantern - a Christmas tradition at my college, and everything gets thrown away at the end, but I stole the lantern. As it hangs near my mirror, it reminds me not to get carried away with the illusory armor - or during those precious times when a friend bares his heart and soul, I may miss the meaning.

Yes, that dingy lantern is almost 9 years old...

Revel bars were a common fixture in our bake sales when I was in college, and it still is a craving among us friends. A short while back my friend Genie was asking for a chocolatey cookie bar recipe that didn't need an electric mixer. Bingo! She said it pretty much was exactly what she was looking for. I recently served this for mother's day (along with apple pie, overachiever) and thanks to my three nephews, it was gone in maybe a minute.

Chocolate Revel Bars from The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
This recipe is halved to fit an 8-inch square pan. Double it if you want to use a 9x13 or 10x15-inch pan. Be sure to check out our book review for The Craft of Baking and our book review of David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert over at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf.

  • 100g (1 stick minus 1 tablespoon) butter
  • 200g (1 cup) packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 155g (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 122g (1-1/2 cups) quick-cooking rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper cut to fit. Cream the butter until soft, then add the brown sugar and baking soda and cream until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just combined. Using a strong wooden spoon, stir in the flour and rolled oats until just combined. Press two-thirds of the dough mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan.

  • 12g (1 tablespoon) butter
  • 200g (10-1/2 tablespoons or 7 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 125g (3/4 cup) semisweet chocolate chips (you can of course use chopped bittersweet chocolate)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the butter, condensed milk, and chocolate chips in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan or microwaveable bowl and place over low heat (or microwave on LOW power), stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Stir to combine and stir in the vanilla. Spread over the dough in the pan using an offset spatula and dot the surface with the remaining one-third of the dough (it's quite stiff, so use two spoons) irregularly in patches.

Bake for 18-23 minutes or until the top is light brown (the filling will not be set at this point). Cool completely then cut into squares.

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