photo by Camille Bautista
Heaven - is the first word that came to mind as soon as I had a bite of Ria Salabits’s revel bars. Now, before you accuse me of being partial, allow me to defend myself.
I had my first taste of the revel bar (although at that time I did not know what it was called) when I was in college. It was a small piece in a box of assorted bars and brownies purchased from the mall. Right there and then, I fell in love with that distinct texture and taste I mistakenly thought of as coconut. Imagine my thrill when tried it again at the Pastry Exchange. It was like unearthing a favorite toy from your childhood.
Ria’s Revel Bars, just like its name, is a pleasure. I love that it is not intensely sweet considering that it is packed with condensed milk and chocolate. Its distinct texture and chewy-ness comes from the oats which I mistakenly thought of as coconut in the past. I can’t seem to explain it, but it is almost like a crunch but not quite. Never fails to elicit that “ooh-la-la” feeling, if you know what I mean. Most of all, the chocolate layer is the perfect compliment, not too sweet and not too gooey either.
photo by Michelle Yulo
The Revel Bar recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens All Time Favorite Cake and Cookies recipe book (1982) owned by Ria’s mom. Recipe follows:
Chocolate Revel Bars1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi sweet chocolate peices
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, baking soda and oats. Meanwhile, beat the butter and the sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until incorporated. Press 2/3 of the mixture evenly on an 11 x 15 pan and reserve the 1/3.
Place the condensed milk and the chocolate in a saucepan and stir over low heat until smooth and the chocolate has melted. Turn off the stove and add 2 tablespoons butter, the vanilla, ¼ teaspoon salt and walnuts. Mix until smooth. Pour evenly onto the flour mixture. Dot the remaining 1/3 flour mixture on top of the chocolate mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned at the edges and is set.
photo by Kit Langit
Ria has made modifications over the years. She substitutes quick cooking oats and omits the walnuts. Sugar is decreased by ¼ cup since she too finds the recipe already sweet. That’s why the bars were not overpoweringly sweet. Her most helpful tip is lining the pan with parchment paper and leaving a ½ inch border since the chocolate will spread some more during baking. Another reason why the chocolate layer does not come out gooey.
Although Ria has been baking since high school, she still experiments and is not ashamed to admit having botch-ups. Her all time specialty is chocolate chip cookie that uses youghurt instead of eggs. Food blogs, new techniques and products inspire Ria to bake. Of course it helps to have a husband and a little girl who never fail to rave about her cooking – now that is inspiration on a daily basis.