Thursday, January 13, 2011

229. Pecan-Brickle Bars, Family Dessert

After WWII homemakers wanted to keep their families happy and well-fed, but they wanted to do it with a   lot less effort. To satisfy this desire for more free time, Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines and Dromedary Brand cake mixes proliferated. As odd as it seems today, the first mixes were only used for making cakes or cupcakes with little or no variation from the basic box directions.

Although today we seem to have endless varieties, the early years for cake mixes were limited to white, chocolate, marble, yellow and pound cake. I can remember that the first angel food mixes were not very good, but quickly improved as fewer women wanted to risk failure and the loss of a dozen eggs with the somewhat temperamental scratch recipes. I also remember that when confetti cake mix came out, almost all of my classmates showed up with a piece of it in their lunch was the new, best thing.

As cake mixes proliferated so did their uses. The manufacturers had to be overjoyed that cooks experimented and found more ways to use those mixes. Today's recipe not only makes use of a cake mix, but also pre-crushed candy. Pecan-Brickle Bars are a foolproof  family dessert and can be shared easily at potlucks or other gatherings.

These bars taste best refrigerated or frozen.

Pecan-Brickle Bars

1 (18.5 oz) extra moist yellow cake mix
1/3 C margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 C pecans, chopped
1/2 C English toffee bits

Combine cake mix, butter and 1 egg in a mixing bowl; mix well until crumbly. Press mixture evenly into a greased 13x9 baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine milk, second egg and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in pecans and toffee bits. Spread mixture over mix layer in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store in
airtight container and refrigerate or freeze. Makes about 36 bars.

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