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Summer is our favorite season for gathering with friends and family and good food, be it at a picnic, a potluck, a barbecue, or a pool party. But no summer meal is complete without something sweet. Sometimes we’re perfectly content with chilled spears of watermelon, or a freeze pop from the ice cream truck, but for special ocassions we like to make a dessert that’s worthy of celebration. So when we saw this recipe from Ree Drummond, whose latest cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks — Dinner’s Ready! is available for preorder, we knew it would end up being the star of at least one of our summer get-togethers. It’s her salted caramel cheesecake bars recipe, and they’re pretty much everything we look for in a special summer dessert.
Though they do need time to bake, chill, and set, Drummond’s homemade salted caramel cheesecake bars are surprisingly easy to make, and only require 40 minutes of active time. Drummond adds a nutty twist to the classic graham cracker crust by pulsing pecans into the crumb mixture, which immediately adds a boost of flavor to the recipe.
William Morrow Cookbooks.
The cheesecake filling is made with a fairly standard combination of cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs, with sour cream adding extra richness and a hint of tang. But the real star of these bars is the salted caramel topping, which you’ll want to eat with a spoon.
Instead of white sugar, Drummond uses brown sugar in her caramel topping, along with plenty of butter (you’ll also need a candy thermometer). Dark corn syrup (not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup) helps keep the caramel mixture smooth, and sweetened condensed milk gives the caramel a rich dairy flavor. Don’t forget the flaky sea salt to finish!
The nutty, buttery graham cracker crust, the smooth and creamy cheesecake filling, and the chewy yet soft salted caramel topping combine for a memorable dessert recipe that kids and adults will both go wild for at all of your summer gatherings.
In search of more summer recipes? Giada De Laurentiis has plenty:
Watch: How to Make Sugar Cookie Berry Pizza
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