Teresa Hatchell 2005

It seems that spring is such a busy time for everyone. There are many people involved in spring sports, science fairs, academic bowls, spring breaks, school plays and recitals. We have community egg hunts, concerts, May Pole dances, events at local tourism sites and great local festivals. Talk about perfect opportunities to enjoy a “staycation” -- I advise you to keep up with the community calendar in our Times and Democrat and you will find that there is more to do in our area than you ever imagined. 

Many schools are on spring break in the weeks leading up to Easter. So, go ahead and take a day, or some days, off and spend time having a picnic at the Edisto Memorial Gardens, enjoy the local YMCA or one of the many other choices offered in our area. Then, enjoy a family Easter that includes a local church service to remind you that Easter is about Jesus Christ.

Below I have suggested several caramel-related recipes that may be made ahead, refrigerated and served on Easter. These rich, creamy, delicious treats will actually make any special day more enjoyable for everyone’s taste buds.

As a cleanup-saving hint, a bag of caramels may be placed in a glass microwave-safe bowl with 1/3 cup of milk and zapped on high for about three and a half minutes. Stir right away. Zap and stir in short increments of time just until the caramel-milk mixture is creamy.

Ultimate caramel chocolate pecan pie

Crust

2 cups finely chopped pecans

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick margarine, melted)

Filling

14 ounces Kraft caramels

1/4 cup milk

1 cup chopped pecans, lightly roasted

1 package (8 squares) Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the crust: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the pecans, sugar and margarine. Press this mixture onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes (until lightly browned. Allow the crust to cool completely.

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For the filling: Melt the caramels with 1/4 cup of milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring continually until the mixture is creamy. Pour this mixture over the crust and sprinkle it with the lightly roasted pecans. In a heavy saucepan, over very low heat, stir the chocolate, 1/3 cup milk, powdered sugar and vanilla until everything is just melted and combined. Pour this mixture over the caramel filling and spread it to the edges of the pie. Refrigerate this pie until you are ready to serve it. 

Favorite chocolate caramel nut bars

14 ounces Kraft caramels

1 can evaporated milk, divided

1 package (2-layer size) German Chocolate cake mix with pudding

1/2 cup margarine, melted

1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided

1 cup semi-sweet real chocolate chips, divided

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Melt the caramels with 1/3 cup of the milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring continually until smooth. Set this aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining milk, cake mix and margarine. Press half of the cake mixture onto the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Sprinkle one cup of the walnuts and a half cup of the chips over the crust. Top this with the caramel mixture, spreading to the edges of the pan. Top with teaspoonfuls of the remaining cake mixture. Press this very gently into the caramel mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining half cup of walnuts and half cup of chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 24 bars.

Contact the writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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