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Dessert bars are sweet treat for summer gatherings

With the warmer weather comes picnics, camping, ballgames, reunions and community and church gatherings.
Deciding what to bring to these events sometimes leaves us scrambling for the perfect item that is easy to make, stores well and is easily transportable. That is where bars come in.
They are the perfect treat for bake sales, fundraisers and treats for the neighborhood kids just home from a long day of swimming or fishing.
As a sweet treat after the kids’ tee ball game, to dessert for a celebration outing, bars can either be simple or a bit elegant, depending on how much time one has for preparation.
From chocolate chip bars to the more sophisticated cheese cake bars, the goodness that comes from the little squares of gooey delight is the perfect complement to summer activities.
Of course, the best known and probably the most well-loved pan delight is the brownie. If a person has 15 minutes, brownies can be the perfect answer to fulfill a need on the run. But brownies will make a whole column on their own in the near future.
So this week I will stick to bar recipes. Some tried and true from former cooks of the week to a couple of new recipes that are worth the try.

Dessert Bar Recipes

Toll House Bars
Cook Mariah Nelson, 2009
2 1/4 cups flour, unsifted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar white
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz package of chocolate chips
Cream sugar, oleo and eggs, then add rest of ingredients. Bake at 375 degrees in a greased 15 x10 x 1 inch pan for about 20 minutes

Butterscotch Bars
Cook Eileen Dolecheck, 1999
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp butter rum extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Melt butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add sugar, eggs and flour to saucepan and mix until well blended. Stir in butter rum extract and pecans.
Pour into prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Cut into 24 squares and serve.

Toffee Bars
In my research, I found multiple cook recipes for toffee bars. So instead of picking one, here is the Betty Crocker recipe for the popular treat.
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg yolk. Stir in flour and salt. Press in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.
Bake bars 25 to 30 minutes or until very light brown (crust will be soft). Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on hot crust. Let stand about 5 minutes or until chocolate is soft; spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts.
Cool bars 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 4 rows.

Hello Dolly Bars
Cook Elaine Larson, 2006
This is a layered bar recipe.
1. Put 1/2 stick oleo or butter in a 13×9-inch cake pan. When the oven in heating to 350°. Put the pan in and melt the butter.
2. Sprinkle a cup of graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter.
3. Sprinkle a cup of coconut over the graham cracker crumbs.
4. Sprinkle a cup or more of chocolate chips over the coconut.
5. Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk over the chocolate chips.
6. Sprinkle a cup of walnuts over the sweetened condensed milk.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The sides will be light brown and the middle bubbly. Let cool and cut. This is a good recipe for children because it is so easy. A cup of butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips can be used also, or in place of the chocolate chips.

Banana Bars
Cook Fran Peterson, 2003
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 8-oz carton sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium bananas, mashed
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs. sour cream and vanilla, then flour, baking soda, salt and mashed bananas. Pour into greased 15 x10-inch pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Cool, then frost.
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 to 4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Easy Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
1 pouch (1 lb, 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup strawberry spreadable fruit (jam, preserves or strawberry pie filling will work)
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.
In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, flour and 1 egg until soft dough forms. Press evenly in pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 15 minutes.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread evenly over crust in pan.
Place spreadable fruit in small resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Cut off tiny corner of bag. Squeeze spreadable fruit in three lines the length of the pan. Use knife to pull spread from side to side through cream cheese mixture at 1-inch intervals. Bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until filling is set. Refrigerate until chilled, about two hours. For bars, cut into eight rows by four rows. Store covered in refrigerator.