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Last week I posted a recipe for dulce de leche swirl congo bars. Fantastic cookies combining the flavor of blondie cookies with chocolate chips and dulce de leche.

Here’s another great idea from Simply Sensational Cookies. These are called Easiest-Ever Dulce de Leche Bars. Why “easiest?” Because amazingly, you don’t use dulce de leche as an ingredient. No you make a shortbread batter, bake it off, then top it with sweetened condensed milk. Pop it back in the oven. The shortbread finishes cooking and that milk is transformed into dulce de leche. Oh, and you top it off with coconut.

It’s really easy. It’s decadently good. If you want to justify making this, get some children. Tell them you are going to demonstrate an important chemical reaction. In goes the shortbread base with condensed milk and out comes dulce de leche. Honestly, I think that’s just the sort of lesson that can trigger a healthy interest in science or cooking.

Or eating.

Easiest-Ever Dulce De Leche Bars

Yield: 24 2” squares


  • 1 batch Simple Shortbread Bar dough [recipe follows]
  • 2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract or coconut extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut


Baking Preliminaries: Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, letting the foil slightly overhang on the narrow sides. Lightly grease the foil or coat with nonstick spray.

If the shortbread dough has not been prepared ahead, ready it; press it evenly into the foil-lined baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the shortbread is tinged with brown and just slightly darker at the edges.

Reset the oven to 325°F.

For the filling: In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Evenly pour the mixture over the crust. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake (middle rack) for 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling is the color of caramel candies. Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the top. Bake, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the coconut is nicely browned and crisp.

Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Using the foil as handles, lift the slab to a cutting board. Carefully peel off and discard the foil.

Cut away the overbaked edges using a large sharp knife. Cut the slab crosswise into sixths and lengthwise into quarters.

Source: Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Simple Shortbread

Yield: one 9 by 13-inch pan


  • 13 tablespoons [scant 1 2/3 sticks] butter, unsalted, cool and firm, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more for optional garnish
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour


Baking Preliminaries: To prepare simple shortbread bars, position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing it to overhang on the 9-inch sides slightly. Lightly grease the foil or coat with nonstick spray. (If using the dough as a bottom crust for layered bars, after making the dough proceed as directed in the individual recipes — which is what is suggested above for this Easiest Ever cookie).

To make the dough with a mixer, let the butter warm up until just slightly soft. In a large bowl with the mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt just until evenly blended, scraping down the bowl as needed. On low speed, beat in the flour just until the mixture forms a mass. (If the mixer motor labors, stir in the last of the flour a large spoon; or gradually knead it in with your hands.)

If the dough too crumbly to hold together, gradually work in up to 4 teaspoons water until it holds together her smoothly. Press and pat the dough into the pan until evenly thick all over (Laying a sheet of wax paper over t h e surface may make it easier to smooth out t h e dough.) If planning to serve t h e shortbread as a cookie itself, garnish the t op by evenly sprinkling over a little sugar. Bake (middle rack for 23 to 28 minutes or until t h e shortbread is nicely browned all over, perhaps slightly darker at the edges, and just firm when pressed.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool to firm up slightly and cool to warm.

Source: Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett