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Chocolate cake


SEPTEMBER 2002
RECIPES



Chocolate-Sour Cream Drops

Chocolate-Raspberry Focaccia

Bob Batson's "Oaxaca Flats"

Dulce de Leche Bars

Chocolate-Coffee Crisps



Sweet Spot

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Dulce de Leche Bars

Tips: Dulce de leche is a caramel spread popular in Latino cultures, and it is becoming much easier to find. Smucker's makes a dulce de leche in 15.75 ounce jars, available in a local market, and La Salamandra is another brand I have found in gourmet stores. Here, an oatmeal crust and topping encloses a simple filling of dulce de leche, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. You'll want to use creamy peanut butter here, not crunchy; I tried the latter and even tried adding chopped peanuts to the crust-topping mixture, but the nuts become soggy very quickly.

The bars will keep at room temperature for a couple of days, or you can freeze them for longer storage. Dulce de leche is very sweet, so as you might expect, these bars are on the sweet side, too. Because they are also quite rich, you can cut them small if you desire.

Crust:

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/3 cups quick OR old-fashioned oats (do not use instant oatmeal)

Filling:

  • 1-1/2 jars (15 to 16 ounces each) dulce de leche, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Line a 13 by 9 inch pan (at least 1-1/2 inches deep) with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, smoothing out as many creases as possible and leaving at least 1 inch of overhang on all sides. Fold the overhang back against the outer edges of the pan. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For Crust, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into small bowl; set aside. In small or large bowl of electric mixer, fitted with paddle beater if available, cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until well-mixed and fluffy. (Scrape bowl and beaters occasionally during mixing process to ensure complete blending.) At low speed, add sifted dry ingredients in two additions, mixing after each until incorporated. Add oats and blend in. Remove from mixer.

By small spoonfuls, place a generous half of the crust mixture all over the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Lightly flour your hands, then compact the mixture on the pan bottom to form an even layer. Set aside briefly.

For Filling, in small bowl, combine dulce de leche and peanut butter; stir together to blend thoroughly (this is easy to do when both are at room temperature). Scrape this mixture onto the still-unbaked crust, and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top.

To finish assembly, take small spoonfuls of remaining crust mixture; briefly flatten each in your hands, then place on top of filling. Almost all of the filling should be covered by the crust mixture, but a few small gaps won't matter. Place pan in preheated oven.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, turning once back-to-front about halfway through baking time. Bars are done when risen, the top crust is lightly browned (the edges will be slightly darker), and the filling bubbles on the edges. Remove to cooling rack; cool completely before cutting into bars. While these cool, the center of the uncut bars may sink slightly-OK.

To cut, remove uncut bars, still in foil, from pan; place on large cutting board. Gently peel back foil from edges. Using a large, sharp, straight-edged knife, cut off and discard 1/4 to 1/2 inch from each edge, then cut 32 to 48 bars, being careful not to squash the bars as you cut them (the filling will still be soft after it has cooled). To keep cuts neat, it may be necessary to rinse the knife blade under warm water, then dry it, occasionally.

Store airtight at room temperature for a day or two, or freeze for longer storage. To defrost, thaw, still in wrappings, at room temperature (you can also eat these partially frozen).

Yields: 32 to 48 bars


© Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; “mirror” or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.

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