Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sharalee's Version of Cranberry Bliss Bars

A wonderful friend, Debbie, introduced me to these scrumptious bars at Starbucks.  They were SO delectable that I decided to embark on an experiment to re-create them with a quick and easy recipe.  Here's what I came up with....and, if the empty platter at my last party is any indication, they were a complete hit! :-)  Try them and let me know what you think!

Cake Ingredients:
1 - Spice Cake Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup vanilla chips
Frosting Ingredients:
1 - can Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting
2 - tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup vanilla chips
1 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cake mix, butter & eggs in a large bowl with a spoon.  Fold in cranberries & vanilla chips.  Spread evenly in the bottom of a greased*, 13x9 inch or 7 x 11 inch pan.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until center is done but not dry!  Do not over bake!!!

After cake has cooled, mix lemon juice into frosting and spread about 3/4 of the can of frosting on the top of the cake.  Sprinkle with cranberries.  Microwave vanilla chips and oil at 20 second intervals until melted.  Drizzle on top of cranberries.  Cut into bars.

*Note:  Save some time by lining your pan Reynolds Nonstick Pan Lining Paper.  It has parchment paper on one side and foil on the other.  Makes removal of the bars and cleanup a snap!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Caramel Dream Bars

About 2 years ago, I purchased a recipe book called "Cornerstone Cooks in Casper".  It's a compilation of tried and true recipes that my cousin's church put together and I have to say they have some GREAT cooks in their church!  The first recipe that my cousin said I HAD to try was for Caramel Dream Bars.  I decided to make them for a party the first time and they were a HUGE hit!  Since then, I've made them on numerous occasions and am always asked for the recipe.  

So, if you want a delectable, chewy, caramel, chocolate treat with a little bit of crunch, these bars are meant for you!

Caramel Dream Bars
64 caramels, unwrapped**
1/2 c. plus 2 T. heavy whipping cream
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (Walnuts are my favorite in this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Microwave caramels and cream until melted, stirring after each minute.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In the mean time, mix the next 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Press half of the oat mixture onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan***.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the  chocolate chips and walnuts (or pecans) over the crust.  Then pour the caramel mixture over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture, pressing down slightly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown.  Cool completely and cut into bars.  

**To save time, I use the caramel bits instead of the individually wrapped caramels.  The bits come in 11 oz. bags and you'll need 2 1/2 bags.
***Save time cleaning up by lining your pan with parchment lined foil.  This will allow you to lift the bars right out of the pan without any sticky mess!