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Dash-Away BarsAs a general rule, I’m not very good at the quick-and-easy routine in the kitchen. I prefer to be challenged with multi-step recipes, unique ingredients, and labor-intensive procedures. Still, having a selection of recipes that you know you can whip up at a moment’s notice is a useful thing for any cook.

Biscuit Barrel Challenge logoAnd I was particularly happy that Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than . . . chose “Quick and Easy” as the theme for this month’s Biscuit Barrel Challenge. You see, in a 1949 Bucks County cookbook that I acquired earlier this month, I’d found an old, hand-written recipe card, evidently tucked away there by a previous owner. It was simply headed, “Cookies,” listed five ingredients (of which only two included measurements), and had directions that consisted of exactly one sentence: “Mix and bake at 375°F.”

An Old Recipe CardA quick-and-easy recipe indeed. My interest was immediately aroused. The use of graham crackers and sweetened condensed milk sounded very similar to a seven-layer or magic cookie bar recipe, but without the layering. Everything was just stirred up together and baked. And instead of coconut and butterscotch, this recipe called for raisins along with the nuts and chocolate chips.

Dash-Away Bar IngredientsIt sounded quite delicious. It undoubtedly fulfilled the quick-and-easy requirement. I had to try them.Stir it all together

Mixing up these bars took less time than taking the ingredients out of the cupboard. Twenty minutes in the oven, and they were done.

Press in the panThe longest part was waiting for the bars to cool.

Out of the ovenI was very curious as I cut into them. Would they hold together? Would the graham crackers give them a crumbly texture, or had the sweetened condensed milk worked some sort of alchemy in the oven?

Graham Cracker Cookie BarsThe latter was the case. These bars are soft and moist, almost cake-like in texture. I had feared that they might be too sweet, thanks to the condensed milk, but the walnuts and chocolate chips balanced it out, and the raisins added lovely, jammy bites of fruit throughout.

I don’t know if I count these bars as true baking, but they certainly make a delightful addition to a plate of Christmas goodies. However, they needed a name. Cookies, I felt, was a bit vague. And rather mainstream, don’t you think?

Quick Cookie BarsSo I named them Dash-Away Bars. Appropriately festive, and decidedly reflective of the recipe’s speedy nature.

Although I must confess, I did make my own graham crackers for the bars. I suspect that this touch most likely pushed the labor quotient above the amount normally allowed for quick-and-easy recipes . . . but, of course, you don’t have to make your own graham crackers.

Dash-Away Bars

Update: July 6th, 2014

These cookies are one of the ninety vintage Bucks County recipes featured in my newly-released cookbook, Potato Pie and Cherry Pickle. If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy the book! You can take a peek inside on its Amazon page.

Ingredients:

2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 ¼ cups chocolate chips
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
 

Technique:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease an 11-x-7-inch baking dish. (If you don’t have a pan of this size, use a 9-inch square pan instead.)
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the crushed graham crackers, chocolate chips, nuts, and raisins.
  3. Pour in the condensed milk and stir until the mixture is evenly moistened.
  4. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the top of the bars are lightly browned.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  7. Cut into 1 ½-inch squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Yield: 28 bars

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