I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite bar cookie – which I’m calling Oatmeal Everything Bars because Oatmeal-Dulce de Leche-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Pecan Bars is way too much of a mouthful to say. Not to eat. Eating these things is also a mouthful, but a glorious one.
Aside from the obvious joy of the various components listed above, there are several things I like about these bars:
- They come together pretty quickly and easily if you have a can of dulce de leche on hand
- They offer a lovely combination of crunchy and gooey
- They keep really well – will last several days without getting stale and/or they freeze well
- They are intense enough that I can eat just one (or two) and feel pretty satisfied
I adapted the recipe from the Butter Baked Goods cookbook – which I got for Christmas and have mostly enjoyed. (In that book, this is called the Dunbar). I’ve made several recipes from this cookbook now, and they’ve almost all turned out very well. I do tend to get annoyed when authors don’t include weights (and she also has a tendency to say things like “use the cookie scoop” – WHICH SIZE?!). But overall, I like the book.
This recipe in its original form, however, had you make a 9×9 pan and only use part of the can of dulce de leche. I find this deeply frustrating. While I’m not fundamentally opposed to eating dulce de leche with a spoon, it’s not really something I do. And I find it seriously annoying to be left with a partial can that then languishes in my fridge until I throw it out in frustration three weeks later since no recipe I’ve ever come across calls for four tablespoons of dulce de leche. That’s not a thing.
So, I adapted the recipe to use a whole can and a 9×13 pan. It arguably makes way too many of these incredibly rich bars, but (as mentioned above) I learned that they stay perfectly delicious for up to a week at room temperature (maybe longer, they’ve never lasted longer than that because I eat them all). They also freeze well. So it’s just as easy to make a batch and freeze half of it for later. And they are somewhat less messy to cut when partially frozen.
Only other thing to note is that it’s easier to spread the dulce de leche if you warm it up a bit. I usually just scoop it into a ziplock bag to “pipe” onto the toppings without warming it, but that’s the somewhat harder way to do it. It won’t be evenly distributed and the process will be a little annoying, but you can get it well distributed enough to ensure there’s some in every bite.
Ingredients are listed in the order they appear in the recipe and anything that requires prep is in bold. Ingredients are bolded in the directions when you first encounter them and the quantity required is included. I also include notes about any special equipment you’ll need.
Hassle Level One (1/4): equipment, ingredients, and time. Unless you’re super buff and like doing stuff by hand, you will need an electric mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar. You also have to let butter come to room temperature, and you need a can of dulce de leche (unless you’re deeply intrepid and want to make your own – which I never have). As I learned the hard way last summer, it isn’t always easy to track this stuff down at your local grocery store. I ended up finding it at Target of all places and stocked up.
Oatmeal Everything Bars – AKA Oatmeal Dulce de Leche Chocolate Chip Coconut Pecan Bars
(Adapted from Butter Baked Goods)
Required equipment: 9×13 baking pan. I recommend using a metal baking pan if you have it. Freezer quality ziplock bag or piping bag.
- 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) flour
- *light 2 cups (185 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (in other words, just a tad under 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/4 tsp regular)
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups (210 grams) dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup (95 grams) pecans, toasted and chopped (toasting is optional)
- 3/4 cup (45 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 can (13.4 oz) dulce de leche – probably around 1 cup, precision isn’t important
Prep work: set out the butter an hour or so in advance to bring it to room temperature. Toast and chop the pecans, or just chop them. Toasted is cool but not especially necessary if you can’t be bothered.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line your 9×13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) flour, 2 cups (185 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer), cream together the 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter and 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) dark brown sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure thorough mixing.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients (flour, oats, etc). Mix just until thoroughly combined. The dough will be thick.
Divide the dough in approximately half and press the first half evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. It doesn’t have to be perfectly even, of course, and it’ll be easier to just use your hands than a spatula.
Sprinkle the dough with 1 1/4 cups (210 grams) dark chocolate chips, 3/4 cup (95 grams) chopped pecans, and 3/4 cup (45 grams) shredded coconut.
If you don’t mind dirtying extra dishes, empty the dulce de leche into a microwave safe bowl, then zap it a couple of times in 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until it reaches a more pipeable/pourable consistency. If you can’t be bothered, then just scoop it out of the can into a *freezer quality ziplock bag, snip off a corner, and pipe it in rows across the top of the sprinkled ingredients. You could also use an actual piping bag if you have those on hand. (*Since the dulce de leche is pretty thick, using a regular sandwich bag will probably result in the seams bursting on you). I think you could probably warm it up enough to just pour it over the top in drizzles, but I haven’t tried that. Basically, you just want to get it spread across the top somewhat even/regularly, and it’s going to be too thick and the ingredients underneath too loose to actually spread it with a spatula.
Crumble the remaining dough in an even layer over the top of the dulce de leche.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. You don’t want to try and cut these while still warm – it’ll make a huge mess and be a frustrating experience (I learned this the hard way). Once they’ve cooled completely, cut them into bars and enjoy! (Or stick half of the baked bars into the freezer to enjoy later – they will keep really well).