Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heartland Turtle Bars

These bars are not necessarily a good thing to eat during bikini-season.  They are full of butter and chocolate and caramel and more butter.  I may have been eating the oatmeal crumble by the spoonful.  Yep, that good.  I made these for our caramel-themed Bakin' Friends goodies last month.  They were so amazingly simple, yet so completely satisfying.     
My love for the bar cookie is strong.  Sometimes when you make cookies, you may be too impatient to roll out the dough, taking the time to bake sheet after sheet.  With a bar cookie, you toss it into a pan and wait by the oven.  I also appreciate how easy it is to just slice off "one more bite" from the pan.  Somehow I feel better about eating 20 little slices, compared with 20 little cookies. 
I love the way the chocolate and oatmeal crumble go together.  The caramel flavor is slight, but it is a nice complement.  All the ingredients are simple, you probably have them waiting for you in the cupboard.  I was so tempted to make another batch, just so I had one to keep and one to mail.  This is one of those recipes I know I will make time and time again, if only just to enjoy that crumbly oat topping!
Heartland Turtle Bars
from the Baked Explorations cookbook
Topping and Base:
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
1 and 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
Caramel Filling:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper, letting it hang over the sides. I always give my parchment paper a coat of cooking spray.  
Topping and Base:
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Use your hands to rub in the brown sugar till combined.  Add the oats and stir.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the melted butter, stirring until all ingredients are wet.  Spread about 2/3 of the mixture across the bottom of the pan, enough to cover the entire base, and bake for 10 minutes. Leave oven on, but remove pan to let oat mixture cool.  Once cool sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans.
Caramel Filling:
In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt brown sugar and butter together.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for one minute
Remove pan from heat and stir in the cream.  Pour onto the chocolate and pecan layer.  Use a spatula to evenly spread the caramel.
Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture on top and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Let bars cool completely before serving.
Anyone who gets a taste of these bars will be grateful.  Make these for summer parties, toss into kids lunchboxes, eat the entire pan yourself, there's really no wrong way to enjoy them!