Will it “bar”?
I reach a point with most of my cookie recipes where I ask, “Will it bar?” By this, I mean, can I just smoosh this batch of cookie dough into a cake pan, bake it as cookie bars, and call it a day? No chilling, no scooping. I’m happy to report that with most drop cookies, the answer is a resounding YES.
“Barring” is one of my favorite baking-with-kids hacks, because if you’ve ever tried to let several small humans take turns portioning cookie dough you’ve probably also asked yourself if there’s a better way. (This is also why I ask all muffin recipes, “Will you loaf cake?” but I digress.)
Anyways. This is basically the chocolate chunk cookie recipe from my book, but baked in a pan. I make this bar cookie version almost as often as I make the OG cookies, as each version has its charms. Besides the ease factor, the pan version bakes up a little thicker, allowing for more uniform fudginess in the middle. I also like being able to sliver off a little cookie slice whenever I want without having to commit to an entire cookie (if you’re one of those people who leaves half-cookies in their wake, I’m looking at you!). With a regular cookie, you do get a more well-rounded (pun intended) textural experience; and if you’ve got time to chill dough, you’ll be rewarded with deeper nuanced flavor. It all depends on your needs for the day!
I’ve started a Cook Til Delicious newsletter! I’m trying my hand at Substack, writing about baking and baking-adjacent things. Subscribing is the best way to keep in the loop about new recipes (both here on the blog and from the newsletter). It’s free, though there’s a paid option for those who want extra content and/or would like to directly support the testing and writing that goes behind every post. So far, I’ve shared recipes for the following:
- Goldilocks pie meringue (not too sweet, very stable!)
- Mile High lemon meringue tart (for paid subscribers)
- Buttermilk ice cream with rhubarb and brown sugar oats
- Hot cross baos
Hop on over and say hi!
- 113g unsalted butter, cubed
- 20g coffee or water
- 85g all-purpose flour
- 80g spelt flour (or sub more all-purpose)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ tsp espresso powder (optional)
- 90g light brown sugar
- 60g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, cold
- 100g good-quality chopped dark chocolate
- 40g good-quality chopped milk chocolate
- Flaky salt, for garnishing
- Handful of mini marshmallows (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment, leaving about 3 inches of overhang on two sides, and lightly grease. Secure the parchment with metal bulldog clips if you have them, which will make pressing the dough into the pan easier.
- To brown the butter, place the butter in a small, light-colored saucepan over low-medium heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed. The butter will crackle, foam, turn clear gold, then finally start browning. It’s done when the crackling subsides and you smell toasted nuts. This process takes about 5-10 minutes total, but the butter can go from browned to burnt in a flash—so keep an eye on it. Scrape the butter and all the toasty bits into a large bowl and add the coffee or water. Let cool for 10 minutes. (This is a good time to chop your chocolate, if needed.)
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
- Whisk the sugars into the butter until smooth and combined, followed by the egg. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined. When just a few streaks of flour remain, add the chocolate, and mix until evenly distributed.
- Scrape the dough into the prepared pan (it will be soft and sticky) and press it evenly into the bottom. I like using a piece of parchment between my fingers and the dough so the dough stays in the pan and not on my hands. Sprinkle with flaky salt.
- If you're using mini marshmallows, take the pan out around 18 minutes and press the marshmallows into the cookie bars (really press them in, don't just scatter them on top), then return to the oven. Bake for 20-23 minutes total, or until the edges are set and the center is still soft and slightly wobbly (give the pan a little shake to check). Immediately rap the pan on the counter a couple times to help deflate the cookie, giving you lovely crinkles and an extra fudgy texture.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into desired sizes and devour. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Freeze for longer storage.
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