This weekend we are going to Chicago to visit my daughter and her fiance and meet her future in-laws. Kristin and John have invited a bunch of their friends to meet the four parents, so there will be lots of meeting and greeting!
I offered to bring some bars and decided to bake Turtle Bars from Baking Basics and Beyond. These gooey bars have milk chocolate chips, pecan halves and caramels. I discovered Kraft Caramel Bits at the supermarket and used an 11 ounce package instead of unwrapping 30 caramels. What a clever idea!
Here's the recipe.
Melt the caramels or caramel bits first and cool slightly. You can use caramel sauce, but it’s just not the same. To save time, buy graham cracker crumbs rather than crushing your own.
MAKES 24 BARS
30 caramels, unwrapped (or 11-ounce package caramel bits)
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chunks (6 ounces)
1 cup pecan halves
Heat oven to 350°F with oven rack in middle. Line bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil about 2 inches beyond long sides of pan. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt caramels with milk in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until smooth. Cool slightly.
Beat brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Add graham cracker crumbs, flour, and salt. Mix until crumbly on Low speed.
Remove 1 1/2 cups of mixture and set aside. Press remaining crumb mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
Sprinkle chocolate chunks and pecans evenly over crust. Pour melted caramels over top. Crumble the reserved graham cracker mixture unevenly over the caramel sauce, leaving some of the filling uncovered.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until caramel mixture is bubbling and edges of crust are beginning to brown. Cool completely on wire cooling rack. Remove in one piece from pan by loosening the ends with a metal spatula and lifting, using the aluminum foil. Cut into bars.
BAKER’S NOTE: The graham cracker mixture is very sticky and must be spread evenly, so I usually spray my fingers with nonstick cooking spray before pressing out the crust.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS: You can use semisweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate chunks, but I prefer milk chocolate. Chop the pecan halves if they are large and the bars will be easier to cut.