Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Baking

Happy Holidays, everyone! The past weekend my family set up a "cookie factory" in our kitchen and produced lots of goodies which we carted around the neighborhood in my kids' wagon. Since I bake a lot, we made sure that the lodge has plenty of baking sheets, pans, etc... and I wanted to share one of our favorite recipes with you -- it tastes great, is easy to make, and works well my little "helpers." You can't get much better than that!

Chocolate Crumb Bars (a wonderful, easy recipe from Nestle)

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, divided
1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional (I often use pecans instead of walnuts, depending on what I had on hand)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Beat butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar and salt until crumbly.

Press 2 cups crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan; reserve remaining mixture. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Combine 1 cup morsels and sweetened condensed milk in a small, heavy-duty saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread over hot crust.

Stir nuts and remaining morsels into reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over chocolate filling. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool in pan on wire rack.