Friday, November 16, 2018

Dulce de Leche Bars and the Holiday Season

Is it just my family that's really excited about the holiday season this year?

Normally I roll my eyes when I see the Thanksgiving and Christmas things hitting the shelves the day after Halloween but I can honestly say that this year I didn't have that reaction.

I don't know what it is, but there's something about this year that has everyone under our roof ready.
While we've held off getting out the tree and lights, it's something we're all looking forward to with a great deal of anticipation.  My daughter and I have been listening to Christmas music every morning on the way to school for at least a week now and we've already made it through several Christmas movies.

Not White Christmas, though- that one must be saved for right after we finish decorating the tree and enjoyed with gingersnaps.

It's kind of our thing.  

Anyway, since the holidays (and the school breaks- and free time- that go with them) have been on my mind lately, I've been thinking about gifts that the kids and I can make to share with friends and their teachers.  While I have an amazing apple butter recipe to share with you soon, today I wanted to talk about an incredible addition to the common cookie plate that I recently stumbled upon.

Dulce de Leche Bars.

Oh my, you guys.  These are, sans hyperbole, one of the most amazing little bites of cookie ever.
And I really, truly, honestly, do not have much of a sweet tooth.
I made an exception for these.

They start with a shortbread crust that is crazy easy to make and just gets pushed into the bottom of the baking dish.  Spread a jar of Dulce de Leche over the top, sprinkle some more shortbread crumbles, toasted pecans, and toasted coconuts over the top, and after a quick trip to the oven you have simple but incredibly delicious bars!

Honestly, I'd serve these as bites rather than bars.  They're pretty rich.  But so delicious!  Such a simple way to add some character to your cookie plate or Christmas spread!

Dulce de Leche Bars

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C white sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 (12.5 fl oz) can dulce de leche
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan thoroughly (You can use a slightly larger pan if you want a thinner bar).
2. Blend butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined and creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract; beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again. Combine flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until a ball of dough forms.
3. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until set and light brown, about 20 minutes.
5. Spread dulce de leche over the crust, trying to keep the edges mostly bare.
6. Add coconut and pecans to the remaining dough and mix until incorporated. Crumble mixture over the dulce de leche, pressing it lightly over the top.
7. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars

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