Nutty Chocolate Dream Bars start with a cake mix and go together in a snap. The center is a fudgy ganache made with chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. They are topped with an eye-pleasing and tasty vanilla cream drizzle of frosting. Cut these small because they are very rich. Try to resist, because you will be tempted to eat the entire batch. Brownies never tasted so good!
Feel free to substitute your favorite nuts or omit them completely, if need be.
Nutty Chocolate Dream Bars Recipe
1 (18-1/4 or 18-1/2-ounce) package chocolate or fudge cake mix
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped cashews (or your favorite nuts)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 cup (6-ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup confectioners’ powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
Heavy cream or whole milk (see instructions)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil.
Empty cake mix into a very large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the egg and oil into the well. Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until the mixture is combined to a crumbly texture (like wet dirt). Remove 1 cup of the mixture and mix in half of the cashews. Set aside for use later in the recipe.
Pour remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the foil-lined baking pan.
Press firmly into an even layer.
In a small saucepan, bring the sweetened condensed milk slowly to a simmer. Turn off heat and immediately stir in chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until chocolate is melted and all is combined. Pour chocolate mixture evenly over the crumb layer in the pan and sprinkle with remaining half of the cashews. Tamp pan on the counter to sink in the nuts a bit.
Sprinkle reserved 1 cup of chocolate crumb/cashew mixture evenly over the fudge layer.
Bake about 30 minutes until the edges are firm. Place on a rack and let cool completely before adding the frosting.
Whisk together powdered sugar, cream cheese, and enough heavy cream to make a drizzling consistency. It should be thick, but still thin enough to extrude. Pour into a zip-top plastic bag, press out all the air, and seal. Snip a very tiny bit of the corner from the bottom of the bag. Use as a pastry bag to drizzle frosting in a decorative pattern over the top of the brownie dream bars.
Let brownies sit at room temperature for about an hour before cutting to let the frosting firm up.
Store leftovers covered at room temperature.
Yield: 36 to 48 brownie bars, depending on cut size