These little bars are simple to make, rich tasting, and perfect for a weeknight treat or your Thanksgiving dessert table. They're a variation on "magic bars" and "dream bars," both of which have been around for ages. These little bars are somewhat different, though. More like German chocolate cake rolled into a bar. So, if you don't have time to make a German chocolate cake for dinner or Thanksgiving...go for these little treats instead. I have to confess that I came up with the bars while trying to use up some chocolate cookie crumbs and half a can of caramel sweetened condensed milk. If you're wondering where to find the stuff, you can buy caramel sweetened condensed milk at Walmart. Eagle Brand makes it. You can also use a similar product made by Nestle's or just microwave a can of regular sweetened condensed milk (open it and pour the milk into a deep, microwave save bowl) until the sweetened condensed milk turns a golden caramel color. But the bars call for only half a can, you say. What to do with the remainder? Well, you could double the recipe, or you could heat the caramel sweetened condensed milk and drizzle it, warm, over vanilla ice cream, which would make a nice accompaniment to the bars...Oh, and do you want to sprinkle on some chocolate chips as well as nuts and coconut before baking the bars? Go ahead, but your bars will be very, very, sweet!
Caramel Dream Bars -- Makes an 8-inch pan
1 1/2 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs
5 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 of a 14-ounce can of caramel sweetened condensed milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine the cookie crumbs and butter. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and coat the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake the crumb mixture for about 8 minutes or until toasty and fragrant. Sprinkle the nuts over the crust, then sprinkle on the coconut. Drizzle the caramel evenly over everything. Return the pan to the oven for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is golden. Set the pan aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before trying to cut the bars. You can also lift the baked square from the pan using the aluminum foil and then cut out the bars.