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Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars Recipe

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Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars are a delightful and indulgent treat that combines rich chocolate, caramel, and a variety of nuts. These bars are perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth and are ideal for parties, potlucks, or just a delicious snack at home. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the ingredients, instructions, and tips for making the perfect Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars. Additionally, we’ll provide variations and address frequently asked questions to ensure you achieve the best results.

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Ingredients

For the Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars:

  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (e.g., walnuts, pecans, or a mix of nuts)
  • 1 cup caramel or butterscotch baking chips
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (reserve 2 tablespoons of butter)

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Crust

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, powdered sugar, and salt.
  3. Add Butter: Cut 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons of the room temperature butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Press into Pan: Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish to form the crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is set and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Step 2: Prepare the Filling

  1. Melt Caramel or Butterscotch Chips: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramel or butterscotch baking chips and the reserved 2 tablespoons of butter. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chips and butter are melted and smooth.
  2. Add Sweetened Condensed Milk: Stir the sweetened condensed milk into the melted caramel or butterscotch mixture until well combined.
  3. Add Vanilla and Cream: Mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Step 3: Assemble and Bake the Bars

  1. Add Nuts: Sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the pre-baked crust.
  2. Pour Filling: Pour the caramel or butterscotch filling evenly over the nuts, spreading it out with a spatula if necessary.
  3. Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and set.

Step 4: Cool and Serve

  1. Cool: Allow the bars to cool completely in the baking dish. Once cooled, refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the filling.
  2. Slice and Serve: Once the bars are firm, slice them into squares or rectangles. Serve and enjoy!

Cooking Notes and Variations

Cooking Notes

  • Nuts: You can use your favorite nuts or a combination of nuts for this recipe. Toasting the nuts before adding them to the bars can enhance their flavor.
  • Chilling: Chilling the bars in the refrigerator helps to firm up the filling, making them easier to slice.

Variations

  1. Chocolate Drizzle: Drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the cooled bars for an extra touch of decadence.
  2. Nut-Free Option: Substitute the nuts with dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or chopped dried apricots.
  3. Extra Chewy Bars: Add 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows to the filling mixture for an extra chewy texture.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I use a different type of baking chip?

A: Yes, you can use chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips instead of caramel or butterscotch chips.

Q2: How do I store the bars?

A: Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Q3: Can I freeze these bars?

A: Yes, you can freeze the bars. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze, then transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

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Q4: Can I make these bars gluten-free?

A: Yes, you can substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend to make these bars gluten-free.

Q5: What can I serve with these bars?

A: These bars are delicious on their own, but you can also serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for an extra treat.

Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars are a delightful and indulgent treat that’s perfect for any occasion. With their rich chocolate crust, sweet caramel or butterscotch filling, and crunchy nuts, these bars are sure to be a hit with family and friends. Follow these simple steps and tips to create a delicious and satisfying dessert that everyone will enjoy. Serve these tasty bars with your favorite accompaniments for a perfect treat!