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In our house, these oatmeal chocolate chip bars are a camping staple. In fact, I only make them for camping trips, because they’re so dangerously good I am afraid to have them around more often. With a buttery, crispy oatmeal shortbread base and a gooey chocolate-y top that has pockets of caramel-ly goodness (look at me making up adjectives), it’s difficult to stop eating them. Each year, we go camping at least once with our close friends and these are a must-bring item; within the group, they’re known as “compromise cookies”, a blend of oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip bars (so I can bring one universal favorite instead of two batches of treats), and they disappear fast. The container tends to stay on the picnic table the entire time we’re awake, for easy access.

By no means are compromise cookies restricted to campfire-side eating. In fact, the recipe is so straightforward, it would be a fantastic one to make with kids on summer break, perfect for your block party or play date. They are quite sweet and rich, so a small square goes a long way; you can get 24-32 bars from a single recipe. They freeze well, and may or may not make an incredible base for a s’more… I wouldn’t know.

gooey oatmeal chocolate chip bars (compromise cookies)

Gooey Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars (Compromise Cookies) (makes 24-32 bars)

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 oz. semisweet or dark chocolate chips, or chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and set aside.

To a large bowl (you can use a stand mixer, but this can also be done by hand), add the flour, oatmeal, salt and brown sugar and stir until combined. Mix in the butter until you have a stiff, crumbly batter with an even consistency. Pour 3/4 of the mixture into your baking pan and press down with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon until it’s compact and evenly distributed. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the top and tilt the pan until it covers the crust evenly. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips and then crumble the remaining 1/4 of your crust mixture over the top. Bake for 30 mins., until the top is bubbly and lightly browned.

Cool completely at room temperature before cutting. The bars will keep in a tightly-covered container at room temperature for 3-6 days and can be frozen in resealable plastic bags or freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.


Our most recent camping trip was to Deception Pass State Park; here’s the view from Goose Rock Summit, our big adventure exploration of this trip:

Goose Rock summit

And from the beach closest to our site:

West Beach

After spending some quality time in each place, we returned to the campsite to refuel with compromise cookies.