Category Archives: Cookies and Bars

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars taste like an extra gooey chocolate chip cookie with a little bit of a cake-like taste made into a bar.  They rank among my favorite desserts, and they’re amazingly easy to make.  They’re much easier to make with a mixer, but you can hand stir them in a pinch as long as the butter is soft.  They are best served warm or at least the day you make them.  They’ll still be good the next day, but they go downhill fast because of how gooey and almost undercooked they are.  Take them to a party, and they’ll disappear FAST.  

Difficulty:  Easy

Source:  you guessed it – my mom

1 package yellow cake mix (preferably Duncan Hines Butter Golden)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup softened butter (you could use margarine, but I stick with butter… no pun intended)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup pecan pieces (optional, and I’m always always always going to leave any type of nuts out of the recipe)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars - Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 convection.  Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips and pecans.  When thoroughly mixed, spread in a greased 9×13 inch pan.  Pam (original flavor) is my favorite cooking spray, but just be sure not to grab the garlic flavored Pam your roommate bought years ago and never used.  I can tell you from experience, that will completely ruin your dessert.  I get a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar dough

Sprinkle with chocolate chips (and pecans if you choose).  It looks like a lot of choc chips, but remember that they’re not mixed into the batter, so this is just right when they mix in as they bake.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars ready to bake

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (or 325 convection for 20 minutes).  I take them out of the oven when the top has browned a little and the edges have browned a little more and start to pull away from the sides.  It may not look quite done in the middle, but that’s what makes it so perfectly gooey when it cools.  It will still be good if you cook it a little longer – just more like the consistency of a brownie.


Let it cool, and cut it into bars.  They are best on the day that they are made.



Chocolate Chip Bars square

The Story:  To redeem myself from the last few times I’ve been caught empty-handed at the “what did you bring us” question, I dropped these off at my friend’s house – the one with 4 boys age 1-7.  She sent me this picture a few hours later.

Choc chip bars - empty pan

And the 7 year old doesn’t like chocolate, so they were down a man when trying to conquer this pan.  Now THAT is impressive.  No word on whether anyone made themselves sick…

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I’m on a quest for a favorite recipe for Snickerdoodles, and today I tried the first recipe on my list.  Why Snickerdoodles?  My godson (remember Bo from the BO cake with French Silk Frosting?) has an older brother who does not like chocolate.  So until I succeed in bringing him over to the dark side, I’m tasked with trying to find something to make for his birthday that he likes… other than cinnamon rolls!  Hence, my quest for the best Snickerdoodles recipe is in full force as his April birthday approaches.

Source:  I had two sources for this taste test –  for the cookie recipe and  for the addition of the caramel to some of the cookies for a chewy center

Difficulty:  Easy

Reason I tried this Snickerdoodle recipe first:  I usually like recipes from the Smitten Kitchen (and really like her philosophy), and it was adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe – so it came from two great sources.

Verdict:  I really liked the cookies, and the ones with the caramel filling were extra special.  The birthday boy deemed them “awesome!”  And another taste tester suggested a bit more cinnamon.  Next time I make them I’ll try a few adjustments, which I’ll note below.  If you’re looking for a chewy snickerdoodle, this is your recipe.  I love chewy cookies, so these fit my taste.  However, I usually think of snickerdoodles as a bit more cakey than this, so I think I’ll keep looking for a recipe that is a little more fluffy and cakey in the middle.

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature (Note: next time I’ll try salted butter or more salt)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

Cinnamon and sugar for coating batter:

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Snickerdoodle Ingredients

Preparation:  An hour to a day ahead, make batter and refrigerate.  Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Snickerdoodles dry ingredients 1

Sifting Snickerdoodles dry ingredients

In the bowl of an electric mixer and using the paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Snickerdoodles butter and sugar

Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add eggs, and beat to combine.

Snickerdoodles after adding eggs

Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.


Chill the dough in a covered bowl for an hour to a day ahead.  Chilling makes it easier to roll the dough into balls before baking.

When ready to bake:  Preheat the oven to 375° (original recipe called for 400°), with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven.  Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon.  Use a small cookie dough scoop to form uniform balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture.  For some of the cookies, I cut a caramel in half and punched it into the dough ball.  Then I wrapped the dough around the caramel and remade the ball before rolling it in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Note:  I will experiment with different caramels, as these got pretty difficult to chew once they cooled.


Snickerdoodle dough balls

Place about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake until the cookies are set in the center and begin to crack (they do not need to brown), about 8-10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after four or five minutes.  Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for about five minutes before moving the cookies to the rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Snickerdoodles 2





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Aunt Margaret’s Lemon Loves

Aunt Margaret’s Lemon Loves are the best lemon squares I’ve ever eaten. The crust is shortbread, and the middle layer is lemon filling that is gooey without being runny. And here’s the best part – the top layer is frosting with a hint of lemon flavor rather than the usual powdered sugar. This, along with providing a perfect creamy topping, makes them easier to eat without causing puffs of powdered sugar with each bite.  

Source:  My aunt Margaret found this recipe in Cotton Country.

Difficulty:  Easy


1 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons sugar


1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons flour (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

3 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter

2 teaspoons lemon juice (plus more to taste)

ingredients for lemon loves

Preparation:  a few hours before you’re ready to make Lemon Loves, place 1/4 cup (half stick) of butter on the counter to soften.  This is the butter that will go into the crust.

Crust:  Mix flour and sugar.


Cut 1/4 cup butter into the cup of flour and sugar mixture.

If you don’t have one of these tools, you can cut the butter into the flour/sugar mixture with a table knife in each hand, pointing the knives at each other and crossing them a little, then cutting with both knives simultaneously outward over and over.


Press into 9×9 inch pan.


Bake at 350 degrees (or 325 convection) for 12-15 minutes until it turns a very light golden color.


Filling:  Stir 1 cup sugar, 5 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder together.


Beat eggs and lemon juice together.



Mix dry ingredients with egg mixture.


Pour over crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes (or 325 convection for 12 minutes).  They are done when the lemon mixture begins to brown and has bubbles all over the top.  The surface will be a little shiny and have formed a bit of a crust.  This little crust on top is important so that you can spread your frosting easily.

You want your lemon filling to be at least this brown, but ideal is a little more brown than this.

Frosting:  Wait until the crust and filling have cooled almost to room temperature before making frosting.  Beat powdered sugar with melted butter and lemon juice.



Add more lemon juice to taste.  Once the lemon base has cooled enough that it will not melt the frosting, spread frosting on it, covering the entire lemon base.

To Serve:  Cut into small (about 1 inch) squares, since these are very rich and sweet.  You can make and freeze Lemon Loves several weeks before serving.


Lemon Loves

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Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies

There aren’t many cookies without chocolate that I think are worth the calories (or the effort to make), but these Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies are definitely worth it.  The first time I made these, I was blown away by how delicious they are.  The cinnamon chips provide bursts of cinnamon flavor.  The Heath Toffee Bits are key as well – they really take it up a notch with their chewiness and buttery toffee flavor.  Really, you have to try these.

Source:  (I took the idea of adding toffee bits from the comments and left out raisins just because cookies and raisins don’t mingle in my kitchen.)

Difficulty:  Easy

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

1 2/3 cups (10 oz package) Hershey’s cinnamon chips*

1 cup Heath toffee bits (the ones without the chocolate)**

*Notes on cinnamon chips:  First, buy two packages because you’ll want to eat a handful.  Second, buying Hershey’s brand is key.  I had trouble finding them in my grocery stores, so I ordered some from King Arthur Flour (which in my experience has great quality ingredients).  The KAF cinnamon chips were waxy and not at all tempting to eat.  The Hershey’s version is creamy and cinnamony at the same time, which is difficult to imagine if you’ve never tried them, but trust me – you need to try these.  I could eat them by the handful.  If your local grocery does not carry them, try Wal-Mart.  This, along with crushed peppermint, is worth the trip to Wal-Mart.

**Change from original recipe:  I substituted 1 cup toffee bits for 3/4 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection)

Beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well.  Combine flour and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture, beating well.  Stir in oats, cinnamon chips and toffee (batter will be stiff).


Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.


Bake 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool for a minute, and then remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.  Don’t wait too long before moving the cookies to the cooling rack – the toffee bits will cling to the cookie sheet more as they cool.


The Story:  I first bought cinnamon chips for a Pioneer Woman recipe for cinnamon chip scones.  I loved the cinnamon chips so much that I started researching all sorts of cinnamon chip recipes.  This one (with my alterations) was my favorite.

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Grinch Cookies

Grinch Cookies are a great Christmas treat paired with a reading of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  These Grinch-colored mint sugar cookies with semisweet and white chocolate chips are simple (made with sugar cookie mix!) and surprisingly delicious. 

Source: (scroll down for recipe)

I changed the recipe a little since I could not find crème de menthe chips.  Here’s my version:

1 package (1 lb 1.5 oz)Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (original recipe calls for mint, but I only have peppermint)

6-8 drops green food coloring (I used 7 in the pics below)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (original recipe calls for chunks, which I also did not have)

1 cup white chocolate chips (I could not find crème de menthe chips anywhere – this is why I used the higher end of the range of peppermint extract)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 convection).  Stir cookie mix, butter, and egg together.  Then add peppermint extract and food coloring.  Add more peppermint extract to taste and more green food coloring to get the color you want.


Add the chocolate and white chocolate chips and mix well.  Place dough balls on cookie sheet.  It will help if you flatten them a little, as this dough doesn’t fall much while baking.  I did not flatten the dough before I put it in the oven and reached in the oven with a spatula and pressed them down a little while they baked.


Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.  I take them out of the oven when I see the first hint of browning of the dough.  Let cool on baking rack for a few minutes before serving.



The Story:  I saw this on Pinterest a few years ago and took it to my godson and his brothers for a Christmas treat while we read How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  It quickly became a much anticipated Christmas tradition.  Oh, and of course the reading of the Grinch book is by no means limited to Christmastime.

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