Tag Archives: cookie bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsFor a short week, this one has seemed endless. There has been change and growth and letting go and construction and a migraine that began on Tuesday night and continued well into Wednesday afternoon.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsWhat I’m saying is that I could use a treat. Luckily, I have a refrigerator full of these Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars, which are the perfect chewy, gooey, crispy-edged, chocolate-studded sweet to counteract all the negative energy in my immediate vicinity.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsIn addition to being a perfect flavor and textural combination, these bars are super easy to make. The cookie layers are simply a chocolate chip cookie play on the crumb I used in my Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble. It comes together in five minutes and only requires one bowl—score!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsA little more than half of the cookie mix gets pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Then comes the salted caramel, which is simply a bag of soft caramel candies that are melted with salt and heavy cream.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsThe remaining cookie mix is scattered over the top of the caramel and then everything is baked until the edges are crisp and the caramel is starting to bubble up through the cookie crumble.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsLet your bars cool completely before slicing. If you try to cut them before they’re cool, you won’t get the satisfaction that comes with clean edges and beautiful layers (if not perfect evenness).Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsAnd that’s to say nothing of the buttery chocolate chip cookie layers and the gooey, salty caramel filling, which are a match made in dessert heaven. So, so delicious.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsI logically know that dessert is not going to change the world, but I can’t seem to look at these and see anything but goodness. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars can’t solve my problems, but four bites of salty-sweet caramel sandwiched between layers of crisp cookie can certainly help soften the blow, am I right?!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
makes about 16 bars

Chocolate Chip Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 reaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Salted Caramel Filling:
1 11-ounce bag caramel candies, unwrapped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make the chocolate chip dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and melted butter and whisk until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in mini chocolate chips. Set aside. Dough may seem crumbly.

Make the salted caramel layer. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Firmly press about 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chip dough into a thin, even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour caramel over the top and smooth to the edges. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Try not to leave any huge areas of caramel uncovered, lest it burn.

Bake full pan for 23-26 minutes, or until turning golden at the edges. Caramel will be liquid straight out of the oven, but will set as bars cool. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Slice bars with a lightly greased chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature.

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Layer them with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresThe Autumnal Equinox may not technically be until tomorrow night, but it is now officially Fall in my kitchen and on this blog. Time for apples and warming spices and dark caramel and, of course, pumpkin!Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresI’m starting off my Fall baking with these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares. They’re made with the seasonal staple, pumpkin purée, along with my favorite pumpkin pie spice blend and a good hit of granulated espresso.Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresThose ingredients, together with the usual suspects like all-purpose flour, butter, a touch of baking powder and a hint of vanilla, bake up into a thick, soft bar base.Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresPumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresThis portion of the process takes all of 35 minutes and smells so. freaking. good. that you might have a hard time letting them cool completely before tearing into them.Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresPumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresBut you should, because the next step is topping them with a thick layer of fluffy vanilla buttercream.Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresPumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresI think vanilla buttercream can enhance almost any dessert flavor combination, but it’s especially good here as a foil to the pumpkin spice and coffee flavors. I like to top these squares with sparkling sugar, too, for a little something extra.Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresPumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresThese bars slice like a dream—I love those clean edges! Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares are very visually appealing, making them perfect for any myriad of Fall occasions. Let’s start by celebrating that it’s Fall at all ❤ Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares
makes one 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso granules (I use Medaglia d’Oro)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup pure pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
sparkling sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhand at the edges, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cookie layer. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, espresso granules, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in granulated sugar and light brown sugar, followed by egg, pumpkin purée, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating just until combined. Dough will be thick.

Spread dough into prepared pan with a silicone spatula. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until no longer wet-looking. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cookie layer cool completely in the pan on a rack. Do not remove bars from pan.

Make vanilla buttercream. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla and heavy cream.

Use an offset icing knife to frost bars. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar, if desired. Freeze pan for 10 minutes to make bars easier to slice cleanly.

Use overhang to carefully lift bars onto a cutting board. Gently peel back edges of the parchment. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into 16 bars, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

Serve squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container with wax paper between layers. They will keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookie SquaresPumpkin Spice Latte Cookie Squares

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresDoes anyone else think it’s weird that strawberries are considered Valentine’s Day-appropriate? I mean, I get that they’re an aphrodisiac and that their red color goes with the whole lovey-dovey puffy heart aesthetic of the holiday, but strawberries aren’t in season in February.

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresBefore I go any further: yes, I know that we live in a time where fresh strawberries are available year-round. I saw huge displays of them at Trader Joe’s yesterday. Available or not though, the fact remains that a mid-winter strawberry will never be as good as one you have in June. Period. End of story.

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresAll that said, today I’m bringing you some Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares. They may not be seasonal, but they are pink, fabulous, easy, and totally perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresThe strawberry flavor in these sweet squares comes from freeze dried strawberries. Their concentrated flavor, lack of moisture, year-round availability, and consistent quality make them perfect for all sorts of baked goods, especially cookies and bars. Here they’re pulverized in a food processor until they’re nothing but powder and then whipped into sugar cookie dough and a batch of fluffy buttercream.

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresStrawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresThese squares must be baked to be believed—if you’re into strawberry desserts, this recipe is absolutely for you. The strawberry flavor is decidedly real, unlike anything you’ll find in a boxed mix.

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresOh, did I mention that there’s no food coloring in these bars? That happy pink color is all from the pulverized strawberries 🙂

Well, I suppose there is food coloring in the sprinkles, but they’re just so cute! Feel free to leave them off though if sprinkles aren’t your thing.Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

(They are definitely my thing. They are basically my favorite thing.)

Strawberry Sugar Cookie SquaresMake these Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares for someone you love ❤Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares
makes one 9-inch pan, about 9-16 bars

Cookie Layer:
1 1.2-ounce package freeze dried strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Frosting:
1 1.2-ounce package freeze dried strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5-6 tablespoons heavy cream
sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil and grease lightly. Set aside.

Make the cookie layer. Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar, followed by egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add strawberry powder, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined. Dough will be thick.

Press dough into prepared pan with a silicone spatula or lightly-oiled hands. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until no longer wet-looking. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cookie layer cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Make the frosting. Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 30 seconds.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, beat in confectioner’s sugar, strawberry powder, and salt. Mixture may be alarmingly crumbly—this is normal. Add vanilla and 5 tablespoons of heavy cream. Beat until very fluffy, about 2 minutes. If desired, mix in another tablespoon of heavy cream until the proper consistency is reached.

Remove foil from the cookie layer and place on a cutting board. Spread a thick layer of frosting over the cookie later. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Let sit at room temperature for minutes, or until frosting crusts a bit.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife, slice into squares. Wipe knife clean between cuts.

Serve squares. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Strawberry Sugar Cookie Squares