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Compost Bars for the Little Ones

I volunteered to make a dozen of some sort of baked good for The Kid's christmas party at school tomorrow and he requested the compost bars. The only problem is that these have to appeal to kids from the age of 3 to 13 so I had to rethink them a tiny bit to make them more kid friendly. They also had to be nut free since you can't take anything with any nuts in them anywhere anymore. I took out all the nuts and seeds and subbed in milk chocolate to make them a bit sweeter. I also kept the salty toppings to a minimum and only used to some crushed up bugles although, potato chips would have worked well too but I saw the bag of bugles in the store and was instantly transported back to my childhood. I used to LOVE bugles and quite frankly, I didn't even know you could still buy them. I couldn't resist. I love the look of the whole kernels of caramel corn on there too. The toppings you can throw on these things are pretty endless but I thought I would share another version that worked really well.

Caramel Corn Compost Crunch Bars
adapted from Crunch Bar in Bon Appetit

Cookie Base

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1 1/2 cups chopped milk chocolate

a couple of tbls of chopped dark chocolate

1/3 cup crushed bugles

2/3 cup caramel corn, a bit smashed up and then some whole popcorn bits to fill in any holes after
1/4 cup skor bits
2 tbls crushed candy cane

Put your rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375F

Line a 13x9x2" metal or glass baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang to form handles that you will use to pull the cookie out with after it cools. I put a couple of small dots of butter on all four corners before laying down the parchment to sort of glue the paper in place.

Beat 2 sticks (1 cup) of butter for 3 minutes in your stand mixer at medium speed. Add both sugars and salt and beat for another three minutes. Throw in the vanilla and then start to slowly add in the flour, mixing until it's all fully incorporated and you get a sticky, wet dough.

Scrape the dough into your paper lined pan and use your fingers to pat the dough out, spread evenly over the entire bottom of the pan. I had a little bowl of flour sitting close by so I could flour my finger tips and I patted and spread the dough - it's pretty sticky.

Put the cookie base in the oven and bake it for 22 minutes. Remove it and scatter the milk and dark chocolate  as evenly as you can, covering the entire surface of the hot cookie.  (you can make the cookie base up to a couple of days ahead and store it at room temp until this step)

While your base is cooking, get your toppings together and mix them up in a bowl and set aside.

Put it back in the 375F oven for 2 minutes, take it out and use a spatula to spread the chocolate around so that every nook and cranny of the cookie base is covered with chocolate.

Scatter your toppings all over the cookie base and press lightly into the chocolate. I used whole caramel corn bits to fill in any gaps.

Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the cookie using the parchment paper overhang as handles. Let the whole thing cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before cutting it into squares. Because these are pretty rich, I cut them into smallish squares and I got about 25 or so out of one pan.

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