I just finally installed my new Lightroom software, and this is my first post with photos edited using Lightroom. So far, I’m liking what I see! It seems I have lots of learning to do, because it took me about an hour to edit, upload and then insert just the 3 photos I used in this post, but hopefully I’ll start to pick it up as I go? Either way, I think the photos look great using the new software, so I’m excited to learn more. If you’re a blogger and you use Lightroom, do you have any helpful hints?!
Anyway, onto why we’re really here. Chocolate Oat Dulce de Leche Bars!! This year I’ve gotten really into learning to make normally store-bought things at home. There’s a serious sense of satisfaction I get when I make something myself that I’m used to plucking off a store shelf, and I’m hoping I can continue to reduce my store purchases and increase my homemade goodies. I’d been wanting to make homemade dulce de leche for a long time, and finally took the plunge last week. It really is one of the simplest things to make, but it’s time consuming, and I always struggle to find the time to sit myself down and wait while it cooks. Fortunately, I finally found the time to make it (using this recipe from Bakers Royale – option #1 in the oven), and it was easy as promised, but also so incredibly delicious.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I’d ever really tried dulce de leche before, at least not on it’s own. I’m sure I’ve had it incorporated into a handful of desserts in my time, but I’ve never stuck a finger into a fresh pot just to give it a taste. It’s sooo good. The dulce de leche retains a lot of it’s condensed milk flavor, but it’s totally caramelized with a much deeper flavor. I made it with the express purpose of baking it into these oat bars that Jen from Beantown Baker shared last month, and I had been dying to recreate myself.
Once you’ve made the dulce de leche (or picked up a can from the store!), the chocolate oat bars are super simple to make. They come together in almost no time, and they even turn out okay if you turn the kitchen timer off and forget to take them out of the oven for a good 10-15 minutes after they should have been done. Not that I tried that myself or anything…
Reading back through the recipe when writing this post, I realized I (accidentally) skipped the cup of chocolate chips that are supposed to adorn the tops of these bars… sometimes I just don’t know about myself and my baking abilities! Fortunately, I didn’t even miss the chocolate chips – these bars are really quite delicious without them (thought they’d probably be even more delicious with them). The crust has a wonderful deep chocolate flavor and a great texture from the oats. The dulce de leche adds a sweet and creamy caramel flavor that pairs with the chocolate so perfectly. I imagine the addition of chocolate chips would just put these bars over the top… if you’ve got dulce de leche on hand right now I suggest you give these a try!
Chocolate Oat Dulce de Leche Bars
barely adapted from Beantown Baker
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 13.4-ounce can dulce de leche (homemade or store bought)
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350F.
1) Place both flours, oats, brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and mix well to incorporate.
2) Place butter and unsweetened chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Mix chocolate and butter mixture into dry ingredients thoroughly until uniformly crumbly.
3) Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture. Place remaining crumb mixture in a greased 8×8-inch pan and press down evenly. Bake crust for 10 minutes.
4) Mix dulce de leche and milk in a small bowl until smooth. Evenly spread dulce de leche over partially baked crust.
5) Sprinkle remaning 1/2 cup crumb mixture and chocolate chips over the dulce de leche. Bake an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until set.
6) Cool 1 hour at room temperature and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into 16 bars and store in the refrigerator.