Monday, October 25, 2010

build-a-bars.

Aka Hello Dolly Bars, 7 Layer Bars, etc. Whatever they are called, its just a name for piling on whatever you fancy on a cookie crust before topped off with sweetened condensed milk to bind everything together to prevent any delicious morsels from falling off. 

No siree, we wouldn't want that, would we?

It would certainly be disastrous if any of my *take a deep breath* milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, Reese' pieces, shredded coconut or pretzels decide to pull off a disappearing act.
I don't know about you, but the first thing I do once I get my baked stuff out of the oven is to smell it. 

Yes, smell it. 

I shove my face as close as I can get to the pan without burning my nose, close my eyes and inhale the aroma. And this baby smelled like, guess what?

Caramel popcorn. 

Oh. My. Goodness. It was like walking into a popcorn shop. It was like standing next to a pot of caramel. It was like...

Heaven.
Remember the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover"? This time, its "Don't judge a bar by its looks". These bars gave me a hell of a time slicing them, even after chilling. Next time, they are going into the freezer, not just the fridge.

Ha! Take that! 
These bars are almost perfect, as much as it pains me to say. I knew that the pretzels could get soggy, and I wasn't wrong. Maybe if I had left them whole, they would not soggify so quickly? Can anyone give me pointers?
Instead of the traditional condensed milk, this recipe I used from KAF gave a cream cheese topping, reason being because they found the condensed milk too sweet. It tasted slightly tangy and as the majority of the bar is actually your chocolate chips and stuff, the switch did not make a significant impact on the overall taste of the bar. Your waistline will thank you too!
Recipe from THE KING ARTHUR FLOUR COOKIE COMPANION
Makes 24 bars

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
(I added a pinch of salt)

Mix all the ingredients together and press into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch or 11 x 11 inch pan. Bake in a 180C preheated oven for 10 minutes, until set.

Filling:
4 to 5 cups of whatever you fancy!

Sprinkle them over your cooled crust.

Topping:
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk

To make the topping, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and salt. Add the egg and continue beating until no lumps remain; scrape the inside of the bowl to be sure everything combines evenly. Add the evaporated milk and stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour it evenly over the filling. 

Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges bubble a bit and the center is set.

Remove from the oven and let it cool (I recommend chilling) before cutting.

KAF actually used something like a shortbread bottom layer instead of a graham cookie crust. I picked the cookie crust for convenience but you can use their recipe if you feel like it.




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