Chewy Nutty Squirrel Bars

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Who doesn’t love those pesky squirrels trying to sneak a nibble from the bird feeder? Well, this time we’re taking a cue from those nut hoarders and whipping up a stash of our own squirrelly treats to hide from the family. We like to call them our “can’t-keep-my-paws-off delicious chewy nutty squirrel bars.”

When these tempting layered bars with a crisp cookie base, gooey sweet middle, and salty-sweet nutty caramel topping make an appearance, let’s just say things get a little wild around here. All stealth mode goes out the window as folks try sneaking off with more than their fair share. Hey, we can’t blame them! We’re just as guilty of hoarding a few extra of these sweet-meets-salty squirrelly delicacies when no one is looking.

I love baking up a batch of these because they’re simple to throw together and full of fun flavors the whole family flips for. That crispy cocoa cookie crust surprises you with its slight bitterness, then bam – sweet vanilla-y caramel goodness floods your tastebuds next. And finally, the pièce de résistance – chopped nuts toasted to perfection, nestled in swirls of buttery salted caramel. It’s salty, it’s sweet – it’s an oh-so-decadent combination!

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These bars make such a fun seasonal treat or addition to a bake sale. But fair warning – once people get a taste, you might start noticing bars disappearing from the countertops when you turn your back. In our house, we’ve even caught a few “squirrels” with chocolate smeared on their cheeks! So do like the nut lovers do – stash a few away out of sight (if you can resist nibbling them yourself). Just maybe not in the yard like the real squirrels. Although with flavors this addicting, I just might!

Let’s Get Squirrely!

Makes 24-32 bars

Squirreling Away Time: 40 minutes

Difficulty: Crazy Easy

Yum Factor: 5 out of 5 acorns

What You Need:

  • 2 sticks butter (leave out a bit for later!)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (for sweetness)
  • 1 1⁄4 cup flour (we like all-purpose)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Oooh chocolate!)
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla (the good stuff!)
  • 1 cup caramel baking chips (for the drizzle)
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped nuts (we won’t judge if you use mixed)
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream (aka caramel magic)
  • 1 tsp salt (savory sweetness)
  • Parchment paper (to keep things tidy)

Here’s the Game Plan:

  1. First, let your butter soften up so it’s ready to get creamed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9×13” pan with parchment. We squirrels like to plan ahead!
  3. In a bowl, beat 1 3⁄4 sticks butter and the powdered sugar. Mix in the cocoa powder and flour until combined.
  4. Transfer to the baking pan and use your paws to spread it evenly. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, stirring until thickened. Pour that sweet sauce over the crust and bake 8-10 more minutes.
  6. While that bakes, toast your nuts in a dry pan until crazy fragrant. Let cool then rough chop. Yum!
  7. Melt the caramel chips with the heavy cream, stir stir stir. Then mix the salted nuts into the caramel. Pour over the bars and spread.
  8. Chill completely before cutting or the caramel will get all over your paws! Then sneak as many as you can before the family finds your stash!

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