Tar Heel Kitchen: Carolina Bars

by | Dec 10, 2015


Since 1926, the Agricultural Review has been a free newspaper published by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For many years, The Tar Heel Kitchen was a featured column written by the department’s marketing home economist. These recipes tended to be seasonal with just a handful of ingredients. We thought these recipes needed to be shared in a new format. The Tar Heel Kitchen post will unearth a few of these timeless recipes each month. This week we are revisiting the Dec. 1, 1986 issue and a make-ahead holiday treat.

“The enthusiasm with which many of us will enjoy the holidays has much to do with our state of preparedness,” said Barbara “Babs” Minter Wilkinson, former NCDA&CS Home Economist. “This year why not start your Christmas baking now – in time for sharing the vast array of North Carolina grown products, like apples, peanuts, pecans and sweet potatoes, and a little imagination and time; holiday goodies can be created in your kitchen with a spirit of serenity rather than a sense of panic.”

Below is a recipe for easy to make Carolina Bars, featuring fresh N.C. eggs and walnuts. We tried these out in the test kitchen and really liked the taste. They are not too sweet and a good alternative to all the chocolate desserts during the holidays. We would recommend cutting back on the butter and make sure you find a 9-inch by 9-inch pan (or larger) to keep the cream cheese layer not too thick.

Carolina Bars

• 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, cut up or softened
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon milk
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ½ pound plus 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 cups well-stirred all-purpose flour
• 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In medium bowl beat together cream cheese, eggs, milk, lemon juice and vanilla until blended; reserve. In medium saucepan melt butter; off heat stir in sugar; gradually work in flour, then nuts, using your hands if necessary. Lightly spoon enough of the flour mixture into 1-cup dry measure to fill it; reserve. Press remainder over bottom of 9-inch pan square pan. Bake in 350 degree oven until slightly brown around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes; leave oven control at 350 degrees. Spread reserve cream cheese mixture over crust, sprinkle with reserve flour mixture. Continue baking for 25 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into bars.