Posts Tagged 'Dessert Bar Recipes'

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Last night, I made Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! cookbook. I make these several times per year, and for good reason – people go CRAZY for them. Seriously crazy. The combination of oats, brown sugar, butterscotch caramel ice cream topping, and chocolate is a definite people pleaser. They’re also super easy.

I started by combining 2 cups of old-fashioned oats (quick oats are fine too), 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl. I added 2 sticks of melted butter and stirred the mixture until it was crumbly. I set 1 cup of the crumb mixture aside and pressed the rest into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. That went into the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F.

Next, I whisked together 1 cup of butterscotch caramel ice cream topping (I buy Mrs. Richardson’s at Kroger) and 1/4 cup of flour in a small bowl. I drizzled that over the baked crust. The recipe says to “carefully” spread the topping to the edges of the crust using a spatula, but I just pick up the pan (with hot pads, of course!) and tilt it until the topping evenly covers the crust.

Making the top layer of the bars is the last step. I combined 1/2 cup of chopped pecans with the reserved crumb mixture and sprinkled that – along with 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips – over the top of the caramel mixture. I baked that at 350 F for 15 minutes, set the pan on a cooling rack, and let the bars cool.

chocolate_caramel_oatmeal_chews.jpg
(Click here for way, way better photos.)

Ideal cool time is 2 hours; you *could* serve the bars warm and gooey with ice cream at about the halfway point if you wanted to risk having your family or guests pass out in ecstasy. 😉

TIPS: Don’t overcook these bars. Once you see that the topping has browned and you notice some bubbling, take them out. If you overdo it, the caramel layer will bake into a hard-candy-like substance on the edges of your pan, and you may need to trim the edges.

Also, I tend to cut the bars into smaller portions if I’m bringing them to a party where there are going to be other foods to sample. The normal serving size (24 bars from a 9 x 13 pan) isn’t large, but the bars are rich.

Recipe link: Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Almond Fruit Bars

When Dr. O started his job last June, we thought it would be a nice gesture to send treats for the ladies in the office. They were pretty well received, so I try to put something together at least every few weeks.

This time, Dr. O had promised to bring dessert for yesterday’s staff meeting. I was a bit crunched for time, so I looked for a recipe with three characteristics: (1) I had made it before, (2) I had the ingredients on hand, and (3) it was something most people would enjoy. Almond Fruit Bars from the September 2003 issue of Everyday Food made the grade.

The ingredient list is pretty simple – butter, flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, regular sugar, an egg yolk, sliced almonds, and fruit jam. We keep sliced almonds for salads, so I had a brand-new bag, thankfully.

I started by combining the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in a bowl, which I then set aside. Next, I creamed the butter and sugar with a hand mixer, and then added the egg yolk, followed by the flour mixture. The almonds were stirred in last.

I pressed half the dough into the bottom of an 8-inch square buttered baking dish and then gently spread 1/2 cup of whisked strawberry jam over the top. (The whisking loosens the jam and makes it easier to spread.) I sprinkled the rest of the dough over the top of the jam and gently pressed it down to form the top layer. This is how things looked pre-oven:

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After 25 minutes at 350 F, the bars were done. I let them cool in the pan and cut them for serving:

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Basically, these bars are just buttery, crumbly goodness with a little fruit filling. I really like them. Dr. O didn’t bring any leftovers home, so I’m hoping the folks in the office liked them too. 🙂

Cut into 16 bars, the servings are a bit small. I think that makes them nice for a sampler platter or a potluck-type situation, where people may want to try more than one thing. You could always cut them into larger bars if you wanted. (One taste, and you might!)

TIPS: You can use any flavor of jam you’d like with this recipe. Cherry is my favorite, but I think raspberry or apricot would be really delicious too.

Also, I would recommend keeping an eye on these when you get close to the end of the baking time. My oven tends to cook things quickly and my instincts told me to take these out at 23 minutes instead of 25. I should have listened. If the edges are allowed to brown too much, they get pretty crispy. I ended up doing a little trimming.

Recipe link: Almond Fruit Bars

(Added bonus – this link has a video!)




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