Pair cinnamon, caramel in these chewy bars
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA/Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:46
|Jane Schimpf with her Cinnamon Caramel Nut Bars. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
“My family and friends know that often they are the ‘guinea pigs’ to try new dishes from all the recipes that I collect,” says Bowling Green resident Jane Schimpf.
That’s what the Bowling Green-State University retiree was doing when she served a popular dessert at a University Women membership luncheon last September.
“This time the University Women were my testers.”
The item Schimpf opted to make for the group’s annual potluck “was a new recipe I wanted to try” and this seemed like as good an occasion as any.
The Cinnamon Caramel Nut Bars she was debuting proved so popular that Schimpf was asked by several members to share the recipe in the Cook’s Corner.
There was only one problem. Schimpf has worked so hard to lose weight over the last year that she felt a bit guilty making her Cook’s Corner submission a high-calorie sweet treat.
So she offered a delightful recipe for Quinoa Lentil Salad as well, which ended up being featured in the column last September. At the same time, readers were promised they would be given the caramel bars recipe at some time in the future.
Today that promise is being fulfilled.
These bars are proof that caramel and cinnamon are two flavors that work very well together.
The recipe is one Schimpf discovered “on the back cover of Cooking Club magazine as part of a McCormick spice advertisement.”
Like any dessert bars, the key preparation tip here is not to let them bake too long, lest they get dried out.
The caramel bars should be chewy, soft, and bursting with flavor.
For 14 of her 37 years at BGSU, Schimpf was the director of food operations. She had previously been an instructor in the culinary arts program at Penta Career Center.
So food has always been a key part of her adult life, career-wise, but it also led to a serious weight gain.
So much so that a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic told her he wasn’t willing to perform an abdominal operation she needed unless she could first lose at least 20 pounds.
“Obesity increases the chance of complications during and after surgery so any weight loss reduces those risks,” Schimpf explains. “Dr. Grundfest anticipated that I would be on a ventilator following the almost eight-hour surgery. She had expected that the added pressure on the heart and lungs from forcing all the organs back inside the abdominal wall would cause problems.
“Fortunately, since I had lost 27 pounds and worked out five or six days a week at the (Bowling Green) Community Center during the three months up to the surgery in March the ventilator wasn’t needed.”
Still, there were post-operative complications. Schimpf ended up having two more surgeries to remove dead or infected tissue during the month following the initial surgery.
“In July I got permission to get back to working out at the Community Center.”
While the weather stayed warm she also kept up a regular exercise regimen in her backyard pool.
By September, the time of the first Cook’s Corner column, Schimpf had taken off an additional 30 pounds, and she has continued to shed excess weight in the six months since.
Friends who haven’t seen her in awhile are invariably surprised — and complimentary.
While Schimpf admitted she isn’t “eating items like Caramel Bars very often these days,” the former culinary instructor points out there is room for indulgence in any diet. The key is simply portion control.
Schimpf also stays busy, which makes it easier to keep the weight off.
Along with gardening, entertaining and enjoying quality Grandma time, “I now do volunteer work,” Schimpf said.
She is serving as president of the Wood County Hospital Guild this year. In that capacity she will be overseeing the guild’s premiere fundraising event. It’s the 2013 Spring Home Tour, slated for May 17 and 18 in Bowling Green.
Cinnamon Caramel Nut Bars
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 pkg. (14 oz.) caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup milk
Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
Mix sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and pecans until well blended.
Stir in flour mixture. Reserve 1 cup batter. Spread remaining batter in greased foil lined 9x13 inch baking pan.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 15 minutes or until firm.
Microwave caramels and milk in microwave safe bowl on high 2 to 3 minutes until melted. stirring every minute. Cool about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Pour over baked layer, spreading within 1/2 inch of edges. Drop reserved batter by spoonfuls over caramel layer. Cut through batter with knife for a marble effect.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until center is set. Cool completely on rack.
Remove from pan and remove foil. trim edges and cut 4-by-6 for 24 bars.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 10:49