Gooey Chocolate Dream Bars — Informative


When my sister asked for my Gooey Chocolate Dream Bar recipe, I sent her to the Chocolate Oat Bar recipe that inspired me in The Joy of Cooking. After listing an excessive amount of alterations, I realized that it might be time to start fresh.

My modifications produce similar flavors to the classic The Joy of Cooking recipe; however, the texture and fudgy-to-crunchy-experience ratio is dramatically different.

Let me know if you think the process is worth the gooey result.

Here’s what you’ll need to complete your Gooey Chocolate Dream Bar experience:

One 10 1/2 X 15 1/2 inch-pan with sides
Butter for coating the pan
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons room-temperature salted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
2 extra-large or 3 large room-temperature eggs
1  1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
2 bowls
1 napkin
1 rubber scrapper
1 cooling rack
1 big knife


Here we go!



You’ll need a pre-heated, 350 degree oven and a 10 1/2 X 15 1/2-inch pan that has been liberally slathered with softened butter.


Blend 2 sticks of softened butter with 2 cups PACKED brown sugar and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla.


After your butter mixture looks creamy, add and mix in 2 x-large eggs or 3 large eggs.


Scrape down the bowl with rubber scrapper as needed. When your eggs have become part of the mixture, add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Blend briefly


Mix a total of 3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats and 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour. Add these in three portions making sure the oats are getting wet evenly and the flour has disappeared. Then, walk away from the mixer.


The gooey topping requires 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips2 Tablespoons butter, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt. Put all 4 ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl.


Microwave for 1 minute and stir.


Microwave another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat as needed to achieve a smooth, fudgy consistency.


Add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to the topping and fold and stir until glossy and smooth.

With the building blocks ready, it’s time for assembly.

Grab approximately 2/3 of the cookie crust and place on pan. Spread out dampening fingers as needed.


The fudgy topping is ready to meet the sweet-salty-crunchy crust.


Pour topping onto base and smooth as evenly as possible making sure to cover base all the way to the edges of the pan.


I like to score the topping with a butter knife so I can expect 24 bars in total.


Wipe of excess topping with a napkin. If you don’t do this, the edges will have a weird texture.



Create 8 hamburger-patty style cookies and place strategically on top of the fudgy topping so that there is some cookie topping on each portion. This is not an exact science, but some cookie on top of the fudge is essential for each bar.Wet hands as needed while working with this wet cookie dough.


Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of a 350-degree oven. Cookie top will begin to brown slightly soon before you take the pan of treats out of the oven.


Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting. Bring out the big knife and wipe down in between cuts. Or treat your self to a sample of the chocolatey goodness stuck to your cutting tool.

My favorite sources for culinary fundamentals are The Joy of Cooking, King Arthur Flour, and The Fannie Farmer cookbook.

What are your go-to texts for cooking problem-solving and inspiration?

For a peak at The Joy of Cooking online.

King Arthur Flour’s comprehensive site evolves classics with a nod to modern tastes.

More on the Boston Cooking School cookbook from Fannie Farmer




The Traces of a Life After Government Experimentation — Narrative


A remnant of my father hangs in my closet; a beautifully-made, army-issue sweater that he wore while serving as an army mechanic during the Vietnam War. Francis was considered fortunate to be stationed in Germany from 1965-1967. No bombs exploding in combat, no Viet Kong around every corner or behind every bush. My father was nervously excited about the adventure and felt he could stomach the jeers from those whose lottery took them directly into active harm because he was fortunate that his deployment would most-likely allow him a return trip home at its end.

He was a charming product of his era with unlimited opportunity and perhaps a natural victim of situation with a self-destructive nature limiting his fulfillment in this life.

I have little memorabilia from my childhood and my father’s life. This brown, button-down, V-neck sweater is made of tightly knit wool. The buttons are an understated dark brown with an odd gold button replacing the bottom fastener. I always thought it represented a masculine style and my dad’s general panache; he was a man who cleaned up well. As I consider the man who wore the sweater, I reconsider my sentimentality and appreciate that this Kamgar military-issue sweater with its serviceable, well-made qualities is mostly a representation of fine raw materials and not an elevated ideal.

A twenty-one-year-old Francis wore this sweater in chilly West German weather, he learned a mechanical trade, he developed friendships, socialized with his peers, and experienced military drug trials that would alter his reality and possibly led to his untimely death. He returned to the United States, married, had four children, lost six possible children to miscarriage, was a party to a tumultuous marriage, held a laborer job, and led a seemingly tortured existence that became less and less social with every passing year. He appeared to find connection and some level of peace communing with nature. He taught me how to find edible wintergreen in the woods and how to meet basic survival needs through nature.

His psychotic break at age 39 was considered abnormally late in life. Research suggests that drug test subjects of military trials from my dad’s service era have experienced these kind of effects.

Hi untimely death in 2005—before reaching the age of 60–concluded a dozen years of seclusion following attempts to live with and treat his schizophrenia.

This CNN article touches on trials, their effects, and the implied consent of military participants. Human Test Subjects provides a preliminary analysis of evidentiary substance supporting the premise of the work Jacob’s Ladder. BZ and Secret U.S. Government Experimentation

My father, as the Kamgar sweater that remains, was well-made of fine raw materials. Circumstance corrupted his service to himself and others.

Do you know of anyone with a similar life experience? What became of their life’s path?