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Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars

 

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Yields: 24-32 bars


Ingredients:


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (set 2 tablespoons aside)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

⅓ cup cocoa powder

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup caramel baking chips

½ cup nuts of your choice (almonds, pecans, or walnuts), chopped

4 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon fine salt

Instructions:


Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Ensure the baking rack is in the middle. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang to help with lifting out the finished bars.

In a spacious bowl, whisk together the sugar and 1 ¾ sticks of softened butter until light and airy.

Gradually mix in the cocoa powder and flour until it forms a smooth dough.

Transfer this dough to the prepared baking dish, pressing it into an even layer. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the base bakes, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the 2 tablespoons of butter you set aside earlier with the sweetened condensed milk. Keep stirring continuously until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Once the base has baked, pour the creamy sauce over it. Return it to the oven and bake until it takes on a golden hue, roughly 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a dry pan, toast your chosen nuts until they give off a delightful aroma. After allowing them to cool for a few moments, give them a rough chop.

For the caramel layer, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the caramel chips along with the heavy cream. Heat in 30-second intervals, ensuring you stir after each interval. This should take about 2 minutes in total. Once melted, fold in the chopped nuts and salt.

Pour this caramel-nut blend over the bar base, ensuring it reaches the edges.

Allow the bars to cool and set completely before lifting them out using the parchment overhang and cutting them into desired sizes.

Enjoy the delicious harmony of crunchy nuts and smooth caramel in these delightful bars!

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