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Friday, January 23, 2009

Yogurt and Cake Mix Bar Cookies

Way back in the 80s, one of the winners of the Pillsbury Bake-off was a Sour Cream and Raisins bar cookie. I don't think I have ever made the "real" recipe, but I started modifying it and have come up with a whole set of variations that are different enough that I can really call this recipe my own. The speed at which this can be made and the variations that allow you to take advantage of whatever you can get on special really do make this a frugal, fast, and fun recipe.

Yogurt Cookie Bars
A really fast dessert with lots of variations possible

1/2 package standard size cake mix, any brand, any flavor (see NOTE)
1/3 c melted butter
1 1/2 c yogurt, plain or flavored
2 large or extra large eggs
1/2 c sugar--if using flavored yogurt, reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup

Optional ingredients

* 1/2 c raisins or dried cranberries
* 1/2 to 1 c chopped dried apricots
* 1/2 c nuts--sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans
* 1/2 t vanilla or almond extract
* grated rind of one lemon or one orange
* 1 c frozen raspberries, blueberries or chopped strawberries or peaches, only slightly thawed; if the fruit is quite juicy, either drain the juice or reduce the amount of yogurt by a tablespoon or so
* 1 c chocolate chips

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Cut the butter in chunks and put into a 9 X 13 pan. Put the pan in the oven as it is preheating to melt the butter. When the butter is melted, pour over the dry cake mix and stir until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Return to the pan and press firmly and evenly across the bottom.

Mix together the yogurt, eggs, sugar, and any optional ingredients being used. Stir until well blended and pour over crust. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until mixture is just set in the middle.

NOTE: The original recipe used a full package of cake mix, but we prefer the thinner crust only half the mix makes. Most brands seem to measure out to around 4 cups, so I either measure out two cups or just eyeball the two halves, trying to make them as even as possible. After I have divided the dry mix, I put the half not used in a zippered plastic bag or glass jar, add a post-a-note to identify it, and store it in the cupboard or refrigerator.


Some of our favorite combinations over the years:

With yellow or white cake mix:

* lemon or plain yogurt, almond flavoring, and dried apricots and almonds
* lemon, plain or vanilla yogurt with vanilla extract and raisins (or dried cranberries) and walnuts
* any fruit flavored yogurt with the same kind of fruit stirred in


With chocolate cake mix:

* plain or vanilla yogurt with vanilla extract, nuts, chocolate chips, and raisins
* raspberry yogurt with frozen raspberries and slivered almonds (I usually sprinkle these over the top instead of stirring them in)
* vanilla yogurt, chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts or pecans
* vanilla yogurt, almond extract and lots of slivered almonds

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