Nailed it: Creme brulee bars an unexpected win

By Sarah Condley

My all-time favorite dessert is crème brulee. I love that stuff.

On our honeymoon, I had it every day at lunch and supper. When we go out to eat, if it’s on the menu I typically get it, even if I’m stuffed (or I don’t eat my entire meal so I can enjoy the dessert). YUM!!!

So you can imagine when I saw this recipe on-line at the hellohoneyblog.com, I was all in. When I found the recipe, I printed it and put it in my dessert folder for the right time to make it.

The right time came when our church was having a potluck and I was providing a dessert. I wanted to make these cookie bars when I knew I’d have to share. Otherwiset, I’d be “forced” to eat the entire pan. I knew Brad would take a bite, but that would be it since he doesn’t care for sweets — hard to believe when I love to bake.

On Saturday before the potluck, I gathered all the ingredients. I lined my square baking dish with foil, leaving a couple of inches sticking out of two sides (to lift the bars out of the pan with), and sprayed it with cooking spray.

I melted the white chocolate and butter in a saucepan and stirred it constantly hoping it wouldn’t stick or burn. When both finally melted, it looked like Cream of Wheat, just like the recipe said it would. I was so glad the recipe mentioned that or I would have thought I messed up. I put the pan to the side while I mixed the other ingredients; once combined I poured in the warm mixture and stirred quickly so as not to cook the eggs.

I poured the batter in the baking dish, put it in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer sounded I had my toffee bits ready. When I pulled the pan out of the oven, the mixture was moving around like soup. I knew there was no way 10 to 12 minutes more would be enough, so I just slid the pan back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

The mixture was still jiggly, but I went ahead and sprinkled the toffee bits on top and continued baking for 12 more minutes.  When the timer sounded for the second time, I used a toothpick to test the bars.  It came out wet, but the recipe said it would.

Later that evening, when the bars had cooled completely in the pan, I used the overhanging foil to lift them out onto a cutting board. I carefully removed the foil and sliced them into bars. Even though these were for a potluck, I had to try one. I like the corners so I took a bite, then another bite.

They didn’t taste like crème brulee to me, but they weren’t bad. I put the rest of the bars in a container and they were ready for Sunday night.

Before the potluck, our worship minister’s wife, Tina, asked what I’d brought. I told her crème brulee bars and almond triangles (I’ll tell you about those next week). She went to the dessert table and checked them out. She said crème brulee was one of her favorite desserts too. I told her I didn’t think they tasted like crème brulee but I wanted her opinion if she tried them.

Later that evening, we talked again. She agreed that they didn’t taste like crème brulee, but she liked them. She said they weren’t gooey enough for creme brulee and I agreed. Maybe I cooked them too long. Before the evening was over, Tina’s husband, Michael found me and let me know he’d also tried the cookie bars. I don’t remember his exact quote, but he loved them.

There were a few crème brulee bars left over and before I left, I handed them Elaine, one of our church secretaries, and told her to leave them on Michael’s desk so he could indulge. A couple of days later when I stopped by the church Elaine let me know that Michael just kept saying no, when she handed the leftover bars to him. He said no because he tries not to eat lots of sweets, but knew he couldn’t resist those crème brulee bars. Better him than me.

So as you can imagine, this is a nailed-It recipe and I’ll be saving it in my self-made cookbook for another potluck.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.

Crème Brulee Cookie Bars

1/2 cup unsalted butter

12 ounces white chocolate chips

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup toffee bits

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Alternativeely, you can use parchment paper that’s been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or greased with butter or shortening.

Place butter and white chocolate chips in a medium saucepan over low heat. Melt the two together, stirring almost constantly, just until melted. The mixture may appear curdled or be the consistency of Cream of Wheat. Remove from heat and cool while mixing other ingredients.

Stir together flour, sugar, extract, salt and eggs in a large bowl. Add white chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle toffee bits evenly over the top. Return to oven and bake another 8 to 12 minutes until the edges are golden brown. A toothpick in the center will still come out with batter on the toothpick, but it will be cleaner along the edges. Be careful not to over bake. It will brown more on the sides and bottom than on the top.

Allow to cool and cut into bars.