The best reviews so far!  True love.  Crazy love. Rob said really good.  Then about 5 minutes later turned to me and said “I really like those bars.”  (And this means that he was thinking about them for 5 whole minutes.)  Sylvie said OMG I love these!  Alisa followed my lead and mixed them with ice cream and caramelized bananas, commenting “the best ever.”  Greg’s friends Matt said  “unbelievable” trying to sum it up in one word.  And Jamie explained, “I really like the mixture of sweetness and crunch” while Sam added “so good like a cookie and a brownie mixed but better.”  Sylvie’s friend Abigail smiled and said, “so good – I love that it is creamy and crunchy.”  Ali said these were on her all time fave list and that Danika thought they should be called yum bars.  Jodi and Mike loved these too.  I brought some to them as they cooked for us, but I must admit that I didn’t share with anyone else. Sorry adult tasters, too good.  Too too good.  These are buttery and rich and so very flavorful – so cut them into small bites but seriously, the nuts, caramel, oats, salt and chocolate – well, these cannot be beat.  Can’t wait for my treat tonight!  Enjoy –

heartland turtle bars (only adapted a tiny tiny bit from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito):

base and topping

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter – melted
1 cup toasted pecans – chopped coarsely
1 3/4 cup chocolate chips

caramel filling

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 stick) – room temp and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and first toast and cool pecans.  Chop.  Keep oven on.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 glass or light colored metal baking pan.  You can line this with parchment or foil (as seen in baking tips) if you also want the ease of pulling these out of the pan easily.  In this case I didn’t line and found the bars fairly easy to cut and remove from the pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda.  Add the brown sugar and use your hands to rub and crumble it in until somewhat smooth.  Stir in the oats and mix until evenly combined.  Make a well in the center and add the melted butter and mix again, until wet and combined.

Spread about 2/3’s of the dough into the pan and press it to cover any holes.  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Remove the pan to let cool, but keep the oven on.

Sprinkle the the toasted pecans and chocolate chips over the slightly cooled crust.  Then make the caramel.

caramel –

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and the brown sugar and bring to a boil.  Let boil for about a minute to 90 seconds – stirring constantly – the caramel will begin to darken at this point.

Remove the pan from the heat and now carefully add the heavy cream – stirring with a long wooden spoon and step away from the saucepan as you do this as this is VERY hot and can sputter  up a bit.  Mix in.

Being careful (this stuff burns) evenly pour the caramel over the chocolate and pecan layer.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the dough (the base and top oat dough) on top of the caramel.

Bake for about 14-18 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Let the bars cool for a bit – 15 min or so.  These are sooooo good warm and fresh out of the oven – but messy and do fall apart – but good!  Oh, with ice cream!  You can also let them set up for a few hours and cut later.  If you want to speed up the cooling process – place in fridge after about 20 minutes and cool for about an hour – they will firm up faster.

They last nicely at room temp for 3-4 days.


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