Thursday, November 12, 2009

Illini Bars (Caramel Brownies)

Grandma Lamkin would be proud.

We had a work bake-off the other week, and my lovely friend Kate won 3rd place. After I spent a good two hours mourning my loss, I congratulated her and swiped her recipe.

Kate made Illini Bars, a recipe perfected by her Grandma Lamkin and enjoyed by all. Kate's grandmother is from the Midwest (Illinois to be exact), and the University of Illinois's mascot are the Illini (who knows....a quickie Google search said it's a Native American tribe and very controversial...those wacky Midwesterners).

These Illini Bars are like rich, rich, RICH caramel brownies from heaven. Well, you won't feel like heaven after eating six of them (willpower has never been one of my stronger suits), but the first few are most definitely heavenly.

Oh, and the brownie recipe uses a cake mix...I told you, those Midwesterners are wacky!

Thank you Kate and Grandma Lamkin for sharing!

Illini Bars (aka Caramel Brownies)
  • 1 package of caramels (14 oz), unwrapped
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 package German chocolate cake mix
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350. In a sauce pan, combine caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Cook over low heat until caramels are melted. Set aside.

Grease 13x9 baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter, 1/3 cup evaporated milk and nuts (if using) by hand. Press a little more than half of the dough into the prepared pan. Reserve the remaining dough and bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over "baked" crust then spread caramel mixture over brownies. Take remaining dough and drop by little dollops/crumbles all over the brownies. Return pan to oven and bake for 18 minutes. Cool and refrigerate, then cut into squares. Keep refrigerated. Eat. Enjoy. Be merry!

The good stuff.

Eat these brownies, and you can be this sexy, too.

Ah yes...the love of my life. Doing what...he does.

Fo' shizzle, that looks good!

Diet smiet!


  1. Oh yeah, I'm gonna make these little babies, and then I can commune with the caramels, too, just like Matt. I'm going to add a tablespoon of oatmeal, then they'll be healthy.


  2. And add a glass of skim milk. Once you do that, there is NO WAY a nutritionist can say anything!

  3. Kathryn-

    I feel honored and I know my Grandma will too once I tell her that you featured her Illini Bars on your blog! Can't wait to explain to her what a blog is! Enjoy!

    Crazy Midwestern-


  4. If you need a chocolate or sweet-tooth fix, these caramel brownies will do the trick. I recommend using unsalted butter since the box mixes are high in sodium. I also used 2T. less, just to save a few calories, and added a bit more milk. I sprinkled toasted pecans over the caramel, and baked it all in a parchment lined pan. After cooling, the bars came out of the pan easily and I was able to cut them into neat squares. I will make them again. I ate quite a few of these brownies, but unfortunately, my sexiness quotient did not even come close to that of this blog's author (see above photo). So excuse me while I hit the plate for a few more.

    Erma as in Bombeck (okay, Kathryn, it's me, MONG!)

  5. You can also probably reduce the amount of caramel, no? They are definitely super rich/sweet/guilty pleasures (so stay away Crohnies! which goes w/o saying).

    Glad you enjoyed, ERMA!

  6. And it's futile to try to be as sexy as me. I mean...look at that face...pure perfection! HA.

  7. I made this this weekend, and they were absolutely amazing! My family and my boyfriends family loved them! Thank you for sharing!