(This recipe was originally posted in conjunction with the Meijer ad week of 3/3/13 - 3/9/13)
These gooey, chewy, and delicious bars start with a packaged cake mix, so they're quick to make...and quick to disappear!
1 15.25oz package German chocolate cake mix
1 10oz can evaporated milk, divided
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, softened
1 C +/- semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C +/- chopped pecans (optional)
1 14oz bag caramels
Combine dry cake mix, 1/3 C evaporated milk, and margarine. Batter/dough will be sticky. Spread about half of this mixture in a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 6 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over the batter. Meanwhile, melt together the caramels and another 1/3 C of evaporated milk. Pour this caramel mixture over top of the pecans and chocolate chips. Drop remaining batter in small clumps over the caramel. Use two spoons to spread out the clumps. It's fine if some caramel is not covered by the batter...it will bake into a pretty, swirly pattern. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 more minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes before cutting. Store cut bars in refrigerator or freezer. These bars are rich, so cut them small enough to yield 28 or more bars out of the 9x13 pan (instead of just 24).
Options and Tips:
- The batter for these bars is kind of a pain to work with. It sticks to the spoon and spatula, and doesn't spread very easily. I've found it easiest to spread it around using two spoons at once, so that I can kind of "pull" the batter to where it needs to go rather than spreading it. You can also use one spoon to scrape off the other one.
- The caramel/evaporated milk mixture can be melted in the microwave (stir frequently!), but I usually melt it in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- Unwrapping caramels is a great job for kids who like to help in the kitchen!
- Pecans are expensive, therefore, optional! You could also substitute walnuts to keep your costs down.
- I usually sprinkle pecans over only half of the bars, since my kids prefer no nuts.
This recipe, in its original form, can be found on page 124 of Adams Christian School's Kitchen Kaleidoscope cookbook under the title "Caramel Squares". I made a few changes to the ingredients and instructions.