Heartland Turtle Bars

Monday, March 18

heartland turtle bars |une gamine dans la cuisine

Winter, in classic curmudgeonly style, refuses to relinquish it's icy grip and pass the seasonal crown over to reticent spring. Yet despite the frozen ground and breathy morning air, I am enjoying tiny prequels of what's to come - birds are singing at daybreak, the trees don't *feel* quite as stark as they did a month ago, and, joy of all joys, the sun is kind enough to emit a hazy light well past 4:30 pm! As a food blogger, longer days are as enticing as sweet cream butter on crusty farmer's bread.

Also, I am back in the kitchen - baking up quite a floury storm of bars, cookies, and brownies! It's strange, but I actually missed cleaning sinkfuls of bowls, measuring cups, and eggy whisks. {Don't tell my flustered future self I'm saying this, but right now, I'm kind of ok with not having a dishwasher. shhh} On second thought, maybe you should remind her...she's a bit fickle, that one.

heartland turtle bars |une gamine dans la cuisine

As soon as spring arrives and lends me some of her freshness and creativity, I promise to start developing my own recipes again. Right now I'm spent - I need guidelines and maps and a definitive yellow brick road-like path - or else my frozen, wintery brain might mistake salt for sugar, or an errant metal mixing bowl for a camera storage cabinet. ;)

This recipe is lovingly adapted from Baked Explorations (surprise!). The bars are simple, homey, and wickedly irresistible. With a cobblestone-oatmeal crumb topping, brown sugared-caramel filling, and a healthy dose of melted chocolate - how can you possibly stop at one serving? (I certainly did not!)

A quick note: I halved the recipe and made it in an awkwardly-sized pan. Don't be alarmed if your bars turn out plumper and heartier than the ones depicted in the photos. (Even skinny, they're fantastic!)

heartland turtle bars |une gamine dans la cuisine


Heartland Turtle Bars
makes about 22-24 bars

for the crust & crumb topping
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking Soda
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

for the middle
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used mini-chips)

for the caramel filling
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons (that's 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter - cut into 1-inch cubes

method
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter an entire 9x13-inch baking pan, line the pan with parchment paper or  tin foil (leave a slight overhang around the edges), and butter the parchment (or foil, if using). 

In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking Soda. Add the brown sugar and use your hand to work it through the other ingredients - break up any large clumps of sugar as you're mixing. Add the oats and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter. Use a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir until the mixture is wet and combined.

Spread about 2/3 of the mixture into prepared pan. Press into an even layer across the bottom. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or just until the edges begin to brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place onto a cooling rack - leave the oven set to 350 F.

After about 10 minutes of cooling time, sprinkle the crust with the pecans and chocolate chips. {Note: Don't worry if the crust is still slightly warm.}

Prepare the filling: Have the cream measured out and ready to use. Place the brown sugar, salt, and butter cubes into a medium-size sauce pan. Heat over med-high until the butter has melted. Bring the mixture to a slow boil and boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly (at this point, the caramel should have darkened slightly). Remove the pan from the heat, and carefully stir in the cream (be careful - the cream may cause the caramel to hiss and sputter!).  Pour the hot caramel directly over the chocolate pecan layer. Use an offset spatula to help spread the caramel around the pan. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture onto the caramel layer.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place it onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.

When you're ready to slice the bars, use the parchment  (or foil) overhang to gently lift the bars out of the pan.

Enjoy!

adapted from Baked Explorations

32 comments:

  1. Yum, I want to hunt down every last crumb of these bars! They sound delightful :).

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  2. after making and (loving!) your toasted pecan chocolate chip cookies over the weekend, you would think i would want a break from the pecan and chocolate combination, but now i'm just wanting more of it..these are perfect! plus i think it is finally time for me to attempt to make caramel - i'm so nervous!

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  3. I am loving daylight savings time we are lucky enough to stay light until 6:30 pm. Your bars look delicious, I would love to have a trade as I am still eating mint brownies and now oatmeal cookies. I have been trying to re-due photos on my blog :)Have a great week Valerie.

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  4. Turtles rock. Caramel, brown sugar, oats, there is so much goodness going on here. Oh, and chocolate of course. I love a good layered bar. And before I even read the recipe, I could tell these were from Baked. I just knew it! They look sooo good!

    What program or feature did you use to get the quote on your photo?

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  5. These bars make my tummy sing--from the flavor to the texture, love it all.

    One of the simple pleasures of life lately for me: hearing the birds sing outside my bedroom window first thing in the morning. It's definitely starting to sound like spring around here. :)

    Have a wonderful week!

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  6. @Averie: I used a free photo editing site called Pixlr (it's great for food photo touch-ups too!). :)

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  7. These look so good and easy to make! Awesome combo!

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  8. Yes, spring is shy, but he is hiding out there somewhere... ;-)

    That quote is beautiful!

    Gorgeous bars! Simply terrific.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  9. Oh my, these sound amazing! I'm loving the sound of those chirping birds in the morning too, it's definitely a promise of Spring even if I'm cocooned in a down jacket, hat and mittens on my morning walk :)

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  10. You know I've never eaten a turtle bar? They look and sound so good though - chocolate, caramel and a crumbly base and topping? Yes please.

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  11. Whether the recipes are your own or adapted from someone else, I always know they'll be wonderful. This one is no exception - the bars are beautiful! And I love the poem too.

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  12. Winter needs to loosen up and let Spring take over. Enough already!
    And God Bless Baked Explorations! Love that delicious book, and I definitely looooove these bars.

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  13. Seriously Valerie, these look incredible! But then again everything you make looks absolutely incredible. Not surprised at all. I adore anything turtle flavored by the way.

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  14. Love oaty coatings:) they look great Valerie..we're in a another storm now~

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  15. Holy delicious! I would love to make these.

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  16. Anything you bake, Val, looks incredible, whether from a cookbook or your own! Never a reason to apologize, for sure!!! I especially love all your treats from the "Baked" cookbooks, since I own them all and have yet to use them! Enjoy your week!

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  17. Love the recipe here but I also love the poetry verse, I cannot locate that, do you happen to have the complete poem? I searched by poet and by title and came up with nothing.

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  18. @Anon: Isn't that a beautiful poem! I found it on a lovely Tumblr site called Growing Orbits! The site is full of poems and quotes, with a few gorgeous music pieces peppered in-between. :)

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  19. A turtle bar with a crumbly topping -oh they look good!!!! Beautiful pictures -they really show off your baking expertise ;-)

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  20. These are my KIND of bar cookie! OMG - I would eat half the pan in one sitting. These are on the must make list. Lovely photos! (When I saw it on Instagram - I was already in love with this recipe)

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  21. I am dying for sun and warm weather to give me motivation! In the meantime, send me some of these bars. They will definitely get me through this cold weather.

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  22. val--
    it's the 1st day of spring and we just had a snowstorm and we're expecting another one tomorrow.
    please make is stop
    maybe if you bake mother nature some of these bars she'll have mercy on us?

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  23. I'm so sorry for all of the snow that's still happening. It was sort of cold here for weeks and now it's like all of sudden summer here. I hope you keep doing what you're doing (your creations or your version of others)because I love it all!

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  24. Everything I want in a sweet treat.
    Mimi

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  25. All winter long, we didn't have much snow. That all changed on Tuesday. Brilliant, I tell you. The day before spring - BAM! And we're loaded with snow. Still here. And I'm grumpy about it. I hope we both get some spring weather soon!

    And these bars look magical. Turtle anything is always a winner. :)

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  26. YAY for winter ;) These bars look absolutely amazing...so happy you're back in the kitchen!

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  27. Ahhhh...we just had a few centimeters of snow today - on the first day of spring!!! Ugh! When is this over??? You are right, at least there's some sun past 4:00 pm. It's so depressing, these short days. I really feel the difference in my mood with the amount of sunshine. But the other thing that gets me in a good mood: dessert! Your bars look delectable! It's like a ray of sunshine :)

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  28. Really lovely bars, but how can you not miss a dishwasher?! I remember with terror the days I lived without one, and could even give mine a cuddle once in a while if it wasn't trapped amongst other things. Happy weekend! :)

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  29. I feel myself becoming addicted to these bars, and I've only just ogled them. They look amazing. Yes, spring, please hurry!

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  30. I just baked these a week ago using walnuts instead of pecans and it turned out fabulous. Also thanks for helping me make my first batch of caramel sauce from scratch!!!

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Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie

 

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