These chewy chocolate caramel bars are sinful, I’m not gonna lie. Chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, toffee bits and caramel are all baked together into a chewy, cakey cookie bar.
So they’re rich. And decadent. And downright naughty.
Perfect dessert bars.
Fresh from the oven…
When the bars are cooled and ready for eating, cut them into small squares to serve.
She and her husband grow wheat, yellow peas and both GMO and non-GMO canola on their Canadian farm, so I made these chocolate caramel bars with canola oil to pay homage to all they do.
Through Taste ’15, we had the opportunity to connect with food experts across the country – nutritionists, researchers, producers, retailers and farmers, and we learned a ton, but I did have a few questions I wanted to ask Sarah after we returned from our most recent trip to Chicago where we visited Spirit Farms.
We had the chance to watch the combines harvesting field corn, so I asked her what percentage of crops on her farm is typically missed by combines, and I was shocked to hear that it’s only about 1%!
She does experience crop loss due to severe weather patterns though. “For example, a strong wind can take away almost 100% of a canola crop that has been cut down into swaths. Wet, heavy snow can lodge a crop and lose 20-30% or hail can come and damage a crop 100%.”
I also asked her what the ideal field crop rotation is, and her husband was kind enough to answer that for us.
“That would involve a handful of different crops: a pulse (like peas) that can fix nitrogen into the soil, a cereal (like wheat or corn) that can add lots of residue back to the soil and a deep-rooted plant (canola or sunflowers) because that root can go far down into the soil and break up compaction and bring nutrients up from deep down into the soil, as much as 3 meters!”
“If you turn a field into pasture for cattle, it can break the cycle of using herbicides so that if you’re using it for hay the cattle can graze or the weeds can be cut. Then you’d have a multi-species field… which better mimics nature.”
Sarah also told me that the reason they grow both GMO and non-GMO canola has nothing to do with consumer requests or pressure; it just makes for good herbicide rotation on their crops.
When asked about her insecticide use on the farm, Sarah explained, ” Using neonicitinoid seed treatments on certain crops like canola can help prevent the target insects that have the potential to destroy the crops at their beginning and most vulnerable stages of growth, then we don’t have to spray an insecticide directly on the crop at a later date.”
“This is also weather dependent, we have only sprayed an insecticide once in 13 years. This is all dependent on the economic threshold of crop-damaging insects, as we want to encourage beneficial insects on our crops — an insecticide will unfortunately kill most insects in a field, which is why we avoid it if at all possible.”
A big thank you to Sarah for answering my questions and sharing a little bit about her family farm, and a big thank you to Best Food Facts for allowing me to see, hear, smell, touch, taste and experience food from farm to table.
If you have any questions about the food we eat, be sure to check out Best Food Facts for a wealth of great information.
Chewy Chocolate Caramel Bars
- 1 pkg yellow cake mix
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- ½ cup toffee bits
- ½ cup butter
- 32 vanilla caramels unwrapped
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13-inch pan.
- In mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, oil and egg. Stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and toffee bits. Press half of batter into baking pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- While crust is baking, melt butter, caramels and condensed milk over med-low heat until caramels have melted and mixture is smooth. Pour slowly and spread evenly over crust. Drop remaining batter in spoonfuls over the top.
- Return to oven. Bake 25-30 minutes or until top is set and edges are golden brown. Cool 20 minutes. Loosen edges from pan and continue to let cool for 40 minutes. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cut into small squares to serve.