I like to consider myself a fairly interesting person but when fall arrives I’m as basic as they come! I want to go apple picking, wear flannel, drink lattes with pumpkin flavors in them. And I wanna bake everything I can.
But real life quickly sets in and all my fall-aspirations and goals usually fall by the wayside and I do about one fourth of the activities I actually intend on doing. This fall I’m trying to make things very easy on myself.
For this post, I teamed up with Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk because I looooove their product. I also use sweetened condensed milk A LOT and theirs has such good flavor and texture.
Let’s talk about sweetened condensed milk for a quick second:
Sweetened condensed milk is milk which has water removed and replaced with sugar. Basically it’s milk and sugar—simple!
To make fall baking a bit easier on myself, last week I made two batches of dulce de leche and I have it in the fridge just chilling, ready for all sorts of recipes that I can’t wait to use to add it to.
The first up are these cookie bars that take ONE BOWL. I feel like one bowl things are the saving grace of baking because it means less dishes and less mess and just the sound of it is encouraging.
Also cookie bars are my new found love. There’s no scooping out cookie dough nor is there rolling out dough and stamping it out with a cookie cutter. It’s simply spread in an even layer in a 9×13 pan and baked—that’s it! Also, there are no batches of cookies that need to be baked up. In about 25 minutes, you’ll have all the bars you’ll need.
Dulce de leche can be quite sweet so I like to balance it out with things that complement it like tartness and saltiness.
These bars might look super sweet but they’re actually not at all. The thin cheese cake layer adds a nice tart flavor to it. The creamy dulce de leche is dolloped on top and then swirled. It looks super pretty.
The recipe is a total breeze and I hope it earns its way onto your fall baking to-do list!
Dulce de leche:
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg
- Pinch of salt
- Sea salt, for topping
To Make the Dulce de Leche:
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a saucepan. Set over medium-low heat and stir continuously, until the condensed milk has gone from white to light caramel color, about 30 minutes.
To Make the Cookie Bars:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and line the bottom of the 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment. I like to cut the parchment and leave extra little flaps on the sides so the bars are easy to pull out of the pan.
- In the bowl of a stand-up mixer (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), add the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat until combined, about 1 minute. Next, crack in the eggs and vanilla extract; mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat one last time until you no longer see any speckles of flour. Pour the cookie dough into the prepared pan, scraping out as much dough as possible; press the dough, spreading it to the edges with your fingers. Smooth the top as well as you can.
- In the same bowl (no need to wash it out, that’s why you scraped it out!), add the cream cheese, sugar, egg and salt. Beat until mostly smooth (it might be a tad bit lumpy and that’s ok!), about 2 minutes. Pour on top of the cookie dough and smooth it out with the spatula into an even layer.
- Drop small teaspoons (about 1/3 cup) of dulce de leche onto the cheesecake layer, leaving about an inch between the dollops. Using a butter knife or skewer, swirl the dulce de leche
- in loopy strokes until the surface is marbled.
- Transfer to the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the surface is only a little jiggly. Allow to cool completely, about an hour, before slicing into rectangles. Top with sprinkles of sea salt.