Brownies & Bars

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cranberry Bars

Oh, these babies are good!  A recipe from the Nestle website, I changed a bit because it called for orange zest and I had lemon.  So this is a version with lemon zest and I also added a bit of lemon juice.  It’s only a background flavor, the other ingredients are the main event.  I used mini chocolate chips, I think it is a better distribution of the chocolate flavor.  How can you miss when you have a layer made of cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk?  This is a definite keeper!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1½ cups quick or old-fashioned oats
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice, divided
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line 13 x 9 baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Mix in flour, oats, lemon zest, and 1 tsp lemon juice until crumbly.  Stir in chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Reserve 2 cups mixture.  Press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk and remaining 1 tsp lemon juice.  Pour cream cheese mixture over hot crust. Sprinkle with reserved flour-oat mixture and gently pat down.  Bake for additional 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.  Remove from pan and cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Grab foil and remove from pan.  Peel foil down from sides and cut into desired size bars.

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