Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

My sisters and I all had unconventional weddings. None of us had big fancy wedding receptions or big groups of people in attendance. Instead, we chose small ceremonies surrounded by family and a few close friends. Later we celebrated by inviting friends over for a backyard BBQ that was casual and fun for everyone. This allowed us to save some money (hubby and I traveled around Europe for our honeymoon instead of having a big wedding reception) and enjoy time with good friends to celebrate our marriage. My dad manned the grill, while my mom cut up fruit for salads and I was in charge of all the baked goodies. You better believe that these chocolate chip cookie bars were on the menu!

These cookie bars are a crowd pleaser

Chocolate chip cookie bars are quick and taste amazing. They are a major crowd pleaser and they couldn’t be easier to make. Using melted butter in this recipe means that these cookie bars can come together super fast. These cookies bake up beautifully in a 9 by 13 pan instead of dropping spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet. They cut up nicely into smaller squares to serve for a crowd. I’ve also made these ahead of time and frozen them with great success.

Crispy Edges, Gooey Middle

Are you a fan of crispy edges? Or do you choose the bars in the middle of the pan? The gooey middles definitely went first at our latest family gathering, but that didn’t stop the whole pan from being devoured in about 30 minutes flat. These bars are the perfect amount of chewy, gooey and crispy. Basically they have something for everyone to enjoy.

Use a parchment sling for easy cleanup

Do yourself a favor and please use a parchment sling for these bars. Non-stick parchment paper makes these bars so easy to lift out of your baking pan and cut into beautiful pieces. It also makes clean-up a breeze and while I wouldn’t fault anyone for eating these out of a pan with a fork (or fingers), parchment paper makes these bars so much easier to handle.

If you’re anything like me with my sweet tooth, you’ve got to try these gooey chocolate chip cookie bars. They are so delicious and so easy. The hardest part is waiting for the bars to cool!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Yield: One, 9 by 13 pan of cookie bars

Time: 10 minute mix, 30 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, semisweet are my favorite but you can use any chocolate chips here

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare a 9 by 13 pan, lining it with a parchment paper sling (check it out here).
  3. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar. Use a fork (or a hand mixer) to mix the sugars and butter together. 
  4. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. To the center of the bowl add the salt and baking soda. Mix.
  6. Add the flour and mix until combined. 
  7. Mix in the chocolate chips. Spread evenly into the pan.
  8. Bake about 30 minutes until crispy around the edges but still a little gooey in the middle. Let sit for 20 minutes in the pan before lifting out with the parchment paper. Cool before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

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Easy Chocolate Pan Cake

Today is my hubby’s birthday. He is my fourth and final birthday celebration in May and by the time his birthday rolls around we are usually all “caked” out. I’m feeling a little cake-fatigue at this point, and the leftover “Happy Birthday” napkins and streamers are on their last legs. Usually my husband requests brownies for a birthday treat as he’s not the biggest fan of cake in general, though he does love a really good chocolate cake. This cake is so good and so easy to make that I’m debating if I should make it instead of a pan of brownies for his birthday today. 

Deep, dark chocolate flavor in this cake

This cake is the perfect end to a special family dinner

What makes this chocolate cake so delicious is the deep, dark flavor of chocolate (beware: not for mild chocolate lovers) and the ethereal chocolate frosting that is super simple and super delicious. Boiling water (which I boil in the microwave to make life easier) is mixed with chocolate chips and then cocoa powder which “blooms” the chocolate giving it a rich and deep chocolate flavor. I stick this mixture in my fridge and stir it every so often to cool it down before adding it to my whipped butter, sugar and eggs.

I also love that this cake bakes up in a small 8 by 8 pan, perfect for a Sunday dinner dessert or just when you have a hankering for some really delicious cake. It is easy to take to a friend’s house for a casual BBQ or fancy enough to dress up for a party. However you choose to make this cake, you won’t be disappointed. 

The best chocolate frosting recipe

And now I have to devote an entire paragraph to the frosting. It is my favorite. This frosting has been my go-to chocolate frosting for years and it is the one I use when I want a quick, easy, creamy chocolate frosting. Sometimes I don’t have cocoa powder on hand…but I always seem to have a bag of chocolate chips, so I love that this frosting calls for chocolate chips in place of cocoa powder. It is dangerously easy when you are looking for something sweet to dress up your graham crackers or even to frost a couple cupcakes.

I don’t think this frosting refrigerates very well on a cake. If you are planning to refrigerate your cake, you may need to choose a different frosting. It will still taste delicious but won’t be as creamy. If you want to make the frosting ahead of time you can do that and refrigerate it. Just bring it to room temperature and whip it again when you want to use it.

Whenever you choose to make it (today? tomorrow?…), whether for a celebration or a lazy Sunday afternoon, I hope you love the rich, chocolatey goodness of this cake. Enjoy…and happy birthday to my main squeeze!

Easy Chocolate Pan Cake

Yield: One, 8 by 8 pan of chocolate cake

Time: 20 minute mix (allow for cooling time), 35 minute bake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup (3 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Frosting:

  • ⅔ cup melted semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Cake

  1. Pour ¾ cups of water into a liquid measuring cup. Microwave until the water is boiling (usually a few minutes). Once the water is boiling, add the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Mix together until smooth. Stick this mixture in the refrigerator to cool down or leave at room temperature until cool. It is important that the mixture has cooled before adding to the cake.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cream together. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract. Mix completely for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until all incorporated (or if you don’t want to wash another bowl…add the baking soda, salt and flour in that order to the butter/sugar mixture)
  6. Pour the cake batter into an 8 by 8 baking pan or a 9 inch cake pan. Bake about 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  1. Melt the chocolate chips. I like to use a liquid measuring cup and melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring after every 15 seconds or so. Be careful not to let the chocolate chips go too long in the microwave or they will seize up and not melt anymore.  Let the chocolate cool completely before adding to the butter.
  2. Whip the unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and cream together. Mix in the vanilla extract and salt. Whip together.
  3. With the mixer running, add the cooled, melted chocolate and continue whipping for about 3-5 minutes. The key to light and fluffy frosting is to keep whipping!!!
  4. Spread on top of the cooled chocolate cake and enjoy!

Recipe Notes: If you want to make cupcakes, you can. Preheat oven to 425 and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 10-12 minutes until baked all the way through. This cake is very moist so I’ve found the cupcakes a little crumbly but still delicious. My kids love them either way.

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Family Favorite Toffee Bars

You know those family recipes that are made over and over and remind you of childhood, good times and love all wrapped up in one little bite? This is that recipe for me.

When my parents were newly married, my mom found this recipe among one of her “newlywed” cookbooks and made it. My dad walked into the kitchen, saw these irresistible bars and proceeded to eat half the pan without even knowing the name (who knows if the “eating half the pan” part is really quite true, but you know how “family stories” go that have been told for generations…). Finally, in between bites, my dad asked my mom, “What are these things?!” and my mom feeling a little bit proud, a little bit irritated and mostly looking for a laugh told him, “Goat Milk Bars!” My dad sputtered a little bit, choked down his bite and then laughed about it later. Ever since, the bars have made an appearance at many family events and will forever be known to our family as “Goat Milk Bars.”

“Goat Milk Bars” is our family name for these amazing toffee bars

In preparing to write up this family favorite recipe, I actually asked my mom if she knew the real name for these bars and she remembered that they were known to the rest of the world as “Toffee Bars.” Whatever you want to call them, “Goat Milk Bars” or “Toffee Bars,” these are sure to be a hit with your family too. They are super simple, just a few pantry-staple ingredients, a little mixing, pressing the crumbly mixture into the pan and finishing the top with chocolate chips. They are the perfect treat to make with your kids or even better, have your kids make for you! The most difficult part of these bars is waiting for them to cool. 

These are best served room temperature…so delicious!

A pro tip, one I’ve learned from the many years I’ve been making these bars, is after taking them out of the oven and letting cool on the counter a bit, stick the pan in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes to help speed the cooling process up. These bars also freeze beautifully if you have any extras. If you are looking for the perfect, simple treat, this is it. I hope you love these as much as we do. Go ahead and try calling them “Goat Milk Bars” to your family and watch those reactions…priceless!

Yield: One 8 by 8 pan of bars, cut into 16 pieces

Time: 10 minute mix, 25 minute bake, 1 hour cool

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8 by 8 pan
  2. In a mixing bowl mix the softened butter until creamy with a handheld or stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and cream together. 
  3. Mix in the egg yolk, vanilla and salt and beat well.
  4. Add the flour a cup at a time and mix. The dough will look very crumbly but will be soft. Pour it into an 8 by 8 pan and press evenly into the pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes until the edges turn a very light brown and the middle is cooked. Take the pan out of the oven and turn the oven off. Pour the 1 cup of chocolate chips on top. Put back the pan back in the still-warm oven for 1 minute allowing the chocolate to melt.
  6. When the chocolate chips are melted (about 60 seconds), take the pan out of the oven and spread the melted chocolate evenly over the bars.
  7. Allow bars to cool and chocolate to set before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Recipe notes: This recipe will also work in a 9 by 13 pan, though your bars won’t be as thick. You will want to decrease the bake time to 20 minutes. 

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