Sunday, April 4, 2010

Turtle Bars

Some friends invited me over for Easter dinner today, and I volunteered to bring dessert. There were a couple of boxes of cake mix in the cupboard, so I pulled out The Cake Mix Doctor Returns, and started leafing through. The recipe for Turtle Bars caught my eye--I already had a lot of the ingredients, so it was a chance to use up some stuff in my cupboard.

These are really good-- the center is chewy and creamy with the crunch of the walnuts. This recipe makes a TON of bars, so I'll take half to dinner and the rest I put in the freezer.

Non-stick cooking spray
1 (14-oz) package of caramels
4 Tbsp. (1/2) stick of butter, plus
8 Tbsp (1) stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 package plain German Chocolate Cake mix
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Start by spraying a 9X13 inch pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now, time to tackle the caramel filling. You can buy the caramels wrapped in plastic, or you can buy a bag of caramels that are ready to go:

 Since this bag was 11-ounces, I added a few caramel pieces from another bag.

Put the caramels, 1/2 stick of butter, and 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan over low heat.

This is where patience pays off-- it will take a while for everything to melt down and come together in a smooth sauce-- just keep stirring!

Once the caramel sauce is smooth, take it off the heat.

Then, in a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, butter, cocoa powder, and eggs. Spread half of this mixture in the bottom of the pan, and smooth out the batter so the entire bottom of the pan is covered. Bake this for 10 minutes-- the batter should rise a good bit.

Next, mix the chocolate chips...

and the walnuts...

How convenient-- you can buy exactly 1 cup of chopped nuts!

....into the caramel sauce.

Boy, this pan is going to be fun to wash! (It wasn't that bad, I just soaked the pan with soap and warm water for a couple of minutes).

Next, pour the caramel mixture over the baked cake mixture, trying to keep a small border of cake around the caramel (if not, the caramel gets really tough and hard on the edges-though it will still be tasty!). 

Then, top the caramel layer with dollops of the remaining cake batter.

The pan goes into the oven for 30 minutes-the caramel will be bubbly.

After the bars come out of the oven, the hardest part of the process: WAITING. You must let these cool so the gooey center doesn't run out everywhere.

I let them cool for a couple of hours on a wire rack, and then cut them up using a sharp knife. 

Oh oh oh-- check out that ooey gooey center!!!