Just 45 minutes to heaven… Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Oh… MY!

About an hour ago, two of my Web teammates (names will be withheld to protect the guilty er, innocent) came and begged for chocolate.

BEGGED. I’m not kidding. They did everything but crawl on their knees.

“Oh, please, please, PJ, we NEEEEEED some chocolate. It’s been such a lonnnnnng day. We need a pick-me-up. Don’t you need to go bake something, like, right now?”

Who can resist that kind of pleading? Not I. Especially when the end goal is something I can totally endorse.

I fake reticence. “Gee, I have a lot of work to do right now…”

I can see their faces falling… shoulders drooping…. until I say, “But I was just looking at a recipe online that needs a new picture. How do chewy chocolate chip cookie bars sound?”

AWWRIGHT!

Great rejoicing ensues.

And eye-rolling, and satisfied sighs when I offer warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie bars to – OK, you’ve forced my hand – Halley and Tracy, two of King Arthur’s most devoted chocolate-lovers.

Is there a chocoholic in YOUR life? Read on…

If you’ve never tried any of our extra-strong flavors – what are you waiting for? Just 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon adds rich, nuanced flavor to your cookies, bars, cakes, scones, muffins, breads, and other sweet treats. These bars are the perfect place to test one of the vanilla-caramelized-sugar type flavors, such as those pictured above.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” pan.

Melt 2/3 cup (10 2/3 tablespoons) butter, and stir in 1 pound brown sugar; that’s 2 firmly packed cups + 2 tablespoons, if you want to use a measuring cup rather than simply use a 1-pound box of brown sugar.

Add 3/4 teaspoon salt (1 teaspoon, if you’ve used unsalted butter), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

If you’re adding an extra-strong flavor, now’s the time. Today I’ve chosen pralines & cream. Butterscotch, butter-rum, and vanilla-butternut are all yummy, too.

Stir until smooth.

Add 3 large eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl midway through this process.

Look how nicely the eggs thicken and lighten the batter.

Add 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder. 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder gives the bars extra depth of flavor, without adding any coffee taste; but omit it if you like.

Add 2 3/4 cups (11 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

Stir until well combined.

Next up: chips and/or nuts of your choice. I’m using 3 cups (18 ounces) of semisweet chocolate chips here. But cappuccino chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate, chopped walnuts or chopped pecans – all good.

Also, a 16-ounce bag of chocolate chips is 2 2/3 cups – close enough.

Stir until the chips are thoroughly dispersed throughout the batter.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges with a wet spatula (or your wet fingers). Smooth the top as best you can.

Bake the bars for 30 to 32 minutes…

…until they’ve risen, and their top is shiny and golden.

A cake tester inserted into the center won’t come out clean; in fact, the center of the very middle of the pan may look quite molten when you dig into it. But so long as no wet batter is showing farther out towards the edges, the bars are done. As they cool, the center will solidify.

Remove the bars from the oven. If the edges have risen a lot compared to the center, use a flat spatula to tamp them down.

Cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.

These bars are very moist indeed just after you’ve removed them from the oven. You might think they’re underbaked; that would be true, if you were going to eat them right away. But letting them cool completely (overnight is best) leaves them with wonderfully chewy, moist texture; if you baked them completely through initially, their final texture would be much drier.

Don’t you love that satiny, delicate top crust?

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Store completely cooled bars, well wrapped, at room temperature. To regain that delicious just-baked, melty chocolate freshness, reheat individual bars in the microwave very briefly, just until warm.

Want to make old-fashioned “congo bars?” Use a mixture of your favorite flavored chips: chocolate, white chocolate, cinnamon, cappuccino, butterscotch, etc.; plus chopped walnuts or pecans.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. ebenezer94

    Those are super-yummy looking. I have some butternut or rum butter or some such flavor around somewhere. I’ll have to track it down and make some of these. Looks like a perfect recipe for white whole wheat flour.

    Good thought – this would indeed do VERY well with white wheat. Might as well add some fiber to all that chocolate, right? :) PJH

    Reply
  2. yourstrulyewalani

    Espresso powder really REALLY makes such a difference I love baking with it and fortunately I just learned that it was available through King Arthur Flour! Hopefully my store carries it. I already am in love with the flours.

    These bars look so chewy and perfect. I can just imagine the sweet, rich chocolate melting on my tongue…I’ll have to bake these for myself so I can dive right in!

    Reply
  3. "Joni M from St. Louis"

    Ohmygoodness–what a delightful looking bar…why oh why am I behind this desk this morning when I could be in the kitchen making THOSE!!! oh yea, bills to pay…well, hummm, I WILL be making these eventually!

    Reply
  4. juthurst

    Did someone say there was CHOCOLATE?
    These look so yummy!
    I’ve been replacing AP flour with regular whole wheat in these types of cookies (and brownies) for years…
    If you’ve never tried it, you might notice a difference, a little more texture, a nuttier flavor.
    For me, I need a little help in justifying the calories so the extra fiber usually pushes me over the edge in the decision of “to make or not to make”.. ;)

    Super good idea – thanks for reminding us here just how versatile ww can be in sweet stuff. It’s NOT just for bread anymore! :) PJH

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  5. servinhim

    Oh these look yummy! I have been sick all week and need something to cheer me up! Chocolate works for me!! (and I’m sure my family would appreciate them also) love your recipes!!

    Reply
  6. gaitedgirl

    PJ, I desperately need chocolate (I would beg but I think Tracy and Halley covered it lol) and I’m sitting here behind my desk, trying not to think of chocolate and I come and find this. You’re not helping me PJ lol But if the husband wants cookie bars this weekend (something I haven’t made for him in a long time), I may just have to whip these up. We should eat them with a movie and no lights on… I remember reading somewhere that eating in the dark meant there were no calories in what you ate ;) However, I don’t want to make a 9×13 pan’s worth of cookie bars. How could make these in an 8×8 pan? Do you even think it’d work in an 8×8 pan?

    Yes, cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9″ round or 8″ x 8″ – perfect! And I’d heard that too, about the dark… maybe I should just get rid of the lights in my kitchen entirely, waddaya think?! PJH

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  7. fran16250

    PJ you are a Saint to give in to the NEEDS of others. You embody the essence of why we bakers bake! Those girls are so lucky to have you around. And what a treat to make them.
    I was just looking for something to make for a basket party and I think these might just do the trick.

    ‘Tis better to give (calories) than to receive (calories)… Not that I don’t receive them as well, during all these taste tests! :) PJH

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  8. LovelyLeanne

    I got the recipe through my google reader and knew I had to make these last night– I, too, needed a chocolate pick-me-up! I really appreciate having a tasty go-to sweet that doesn’t use soft butter to cream– softening butter can be so time consuming that, unless I plan ahead (and who can do that on a busy morning??), I can’t make desserts during the week. Using melted butter is such a delicious enabler : )

    I used almond extract for the “strong” flavor, and the bars are very tasty, but I’m not sure the almond adds much. Next time I might try something else. I like that the recipe uses brown sugar instead of white sugar– does that add flavor and chewiness? Regardless, I love it.

    I’ve been lurking for some time but these were so good that they drove me to register and comment. I don’t think they’ll last long!

    Thanks for coming “out of the shadows” where you’d been lurking, Leanne- glad to have you here! Brown sugar is moister than white, and adds chewiness, as you suggested. It also adds wonderful caramelized flavor. PJH

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  9. TracyT

    Thank you very much for giving in to my and Halley’s pleading (whining?). The cookie bars were a great pick me up in the middle of that loooong day. And my family loved the care package you sent home! You are the BEST! :)

    And when Sam and Chuck are happy, we’re ALL happy! PJH

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  10. Shell-Bell

    These look GREAT PJ! I have a question, though; I cannot have too much caffine right now but would really love to try the coffee-enhances-choclate thing. Could I substitute decaf instant coffee or do you folks sell decaf espresso powder??

    Yup, substitute decaf instant coffee, see how it goes. But remember – chocolate is full of caffeine, too… :( PJH

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  11. karenbn

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. Is there a preference for light or dark brown sugar?

    Karen, I used light because that’s what I had. Dark would be more caramel-y tasting (yummmmm…) PJH

    Reply
  12. wingboy

    Back to the photo – what sort of magic is involved in making background disappear? Can you do the same with the calories?

    Ah, would that I could… calorie-less brownies? Now THAT’S a concept that would make billions… Disappearing background = white marble slab, parchment paper leaned up against a cutting board for background, set in a north-facing window, tiny bit of over-exposure. And that cheap little Canon pocket camera works pretty well, doesn’t it? :) PJH

    Reply
  13. chocomouse

    How do you know they are best if left overnight to cool? Did you hide one? C’mon, fes up PJ, you hid one, didn’t you?

    Actually – thanks to quantum physics and the fourth dimension (time travel), I was able to both bake these immediately for Halley and Tracy, AND bake another batch and let sit overnight, AND still write about it in the present tense. (Smoke & mirrors – you caught me!) :) PJH

    Reply
  14. "Linda S"

    These definitely look like something I’ll be making soon! So many recipes, so little time….!

    I had a thought while looking over step 2 of this recipe: my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen. It uses a unique method that’s pretty neat. (It might make a difference in other recipes, too, for those who like to experiment.)

    The ATK recipe instructs to melt and brown most of the measured butter in a 10″ skillet (NOT non-stick so you can see the color change) till it’s just golden, take it off heat and add the remaining amount of cold butter to cool it down (in your recipe, probably about 6 tbl of the butter browned, then add the remaining unmelted butter in to cool it down), add it to the brown sugar and egg mixture, and then stir it up every 3 minutes or so over a 10-minute period to let it “cure” before adding the dry ingredients.

    By doing this, the brown sugar gradually dissolves into the melted butter to give it an extra-nutty-caramel-y flavor and texture. I’m sure this could be done with this recipe, too. What do you think?

    The cookies are THE best choc-chip ones I’ve ever had (no offense to KAF’s recipe), so I can imagine this might give your bars even more to rave about! Not that you want any more raving, now, would you? :-D

    I think that would work just fine, Linda. Browned butter adds delicious nutty flavor of its own; and I’m sure the cooks at Cook’s tried this a million times till they got it just right. Also, dissolving the sugar is what gives bars that shiny top crust. It’d say it’s a win-win! PJH

    Reply
  15. hdamon

    My Mom made these often – for our family and for school lunch where she worked for years back when school lunches were scratch-cooked meals and they were big hits at the 4-H camp she cooked at in the summer. The wonderful aroma and that great chewy, sweet taste so represent love and caring:):) We even put the recipe on the program at her memorial service – thanks for the warm fuzzy!!

    What a great tribute – a recipe on the memorial service program. LOVE it. Thanks for sharing your memories here- PJH

    Reply
  16. cartvl219

    I’m always trying to cut recipes in half but — how do you halve 3 eggs??? What’s currently in my fridge were labeled and sold as large. According to Terry Golson, author of ‘The Farmstead Egg Cookbook’ (see webcam.com), a large egg weighs 2 oz., medium 1 3/4, extra large 2 1/4, etc. When I was buying eggs from someone with a small flock, I always weighed them to know what I had so if I needed 2 large I could use a medium and an extra large. That’s what Terry does. Since the eggs I am currently buying don’t always look like the same size I still weigh them and these all weighed in at 2 1/4 — extra large. What’s a baker to do? Since baking is really applied chemistry, measurements can be very critical to success.
    Carolyn
    One large egg = 3 1/4 Tablespoons…..so if you’d like to mix one of the eggs and measure “half” that is one option. Other bakers like to use one whole egg and one egg white as half of 3 eggs! Happy Baking! Irene

    P.S. Terry told me she makes a trip to Norwich once or twice a year from eastern Mass. and stocks up. Her husband pushes the cart and she fills it!

    Reply
  17. fran16250

    hdamon-What an awesome tribute to your Mom. That does it. I am planning my own memorial service and putting my favorite recipes together so my “loving through baking” can live on after I’m gone. I’ve often thought about planning the music but I’d much rather plan the recipes.

    Reply
  18. milkwithknives

    Oh, dear! I just made snickerdoodle bars for my husb last night. If only I had read this sooner. Well, there’s always next weekend. I’m rather into cookie bars lately, as they are easier and faster than doing drop cookies, and I can’t ever get enough of that shattery crust. They’re also dense and chewy like a brownie, which is the whole reason to eat a brownie, isn’t it? Thanks for this post, and the great idea of adding the strong flavoring, which I never would have thought of.

    Reply
  19. kd8ejt

    I made a batch earlier today. of course i had to cut out a small corner after is cooled slightly. I’m just waiting for the kids to notice and ask for some. Though next time i think I will make sure my butter is melted all the way through. I had about a tbls that was soft not melted but I don’t think it made too much of a difference.

    Reply
  20. ebenezer94

    OK, I made these for a bake sale today. They sold well (unlike the Maple Walnut Biscotti, which are a big favorite of mine–some people have no taste ;) ). I baked them on the short end of the scale, bit I still think they were a bit overbaked. Of course I only tasted the one tiny corner and gave the rest away. I’ll have to make another batch and bake them slightly less long and give them a proper taste test. And, I used white whole wheat flour even though they were for the bake sale. I think most people wouldn’t notice the difference unless you pointed it out.

    Reply
  21. Kelly

    I made these bars this weekend – they were great! The recipe is correct – take them out before they look done and then let them continue baking while they cool. I froze half of them, since it sounds like the shelf life is short. Lastly – I used chocolate chunks (cut from a large dark chocolate bar) and walnuts as add-ins. The KAF expresso powder really shines through and I loved biting into a chocolate chunk! Thanks for a great recipe.

    Thanks for the enthusiastic endorsement, Kelly! PJH

    Reply
  22. gaa

    I got the email with this recipe while at work. Made them that night and took them to work on Friday. HUGE hit!! Since there are only a few of us in the office, I brought home about half the pan. Took the left overs to the dog park the next day. HUGER hit!!! These bars are perfection in a pan — quick and easy to make and oh so yummy to eat … and eat … and eat …. It is absolutely essential to follow the instructions to letter. Trust PJ! She will never steer you wrong!! So even if they look undone in the center at the end of the baking time, do what PJ says. The best part of these bars is that they are chewy and moist. Thanks PJ and KAF. Yet again you rock!!

    Hope they were for “the masters,” not the dogs! Glad everyone liked them – and thanks much for your kind words. PJH

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  23. Danielle

    I’m the testing coordinator for my school so I made all my fellow teachers a treat since we started state testing today. I had requests for the recipe and a few marriage proposals but no left overs. I used butterscotch flavor (I own about 40 bottles of flavor that I use in candy making but I don’t own pralines & cream, butter-rum, or vanilla-butternut–yet!) and mixed dark and light brown sugar–needed to use up the dark before summer–not many summer recipes need dark brown sugar. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

    Reply
  24. Margy

    No, no, no–you have to eat them over the kitchen sink!–then all the calories go down the drain! Oh, and corners (you know–the ones you cut off to taste) have no calories (at least that’s what I tell myself!) ;-D

    I never knew that, Margy – maybe I should stand at the sink and eat dinner every night! :) PJH

    Reply
  25. singmyself

    I made this for my daughter’s class, as they have just finished the state standardized testing, and they were a HUGE hit! I used dark brown sugar and a mixture of chocolate and butterscotch chips, but didn’t have any espresso powder. I would add my voice to the chorus of many that the timing and cooling directions, followed correctly, will result in a wonderful treat!

    Thanks for sharing these with an obviously deserving group – hope they all gave it their best on those tests! PJH

    Reply
  26. annee

    PJ these are the best ever LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Made them today pan is half gone already. My son who originally wanted brownies for his birthday at school has now decided that these are what he now really wants to share with his class. Thanks for sharing this with us!!!

    And thanks for your feedback here – glad you’ve found another “go to” for your cookie recipe collection! PJH

    Reply
  27. jebozeman04

    I noticed you added salt if using unsalted butter. My husband is on a sodium restricted diet. Would not using the salt change any texture or taste in these brownies?

    In brownies, the salt is there for flavor. Try cutting it back a bit to see how they work for you. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  28. samarchesseau

    Kosher salt would be perfect in these, I always add it to my chocolate chip cookies. Getting a burst of salt with the chewy brown sugar dough and chocolate is my idea of heaven. Just wanted to share my little secret.
    Thanks. We promise to keep it just between us ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  29. aff7978

    I made these the other day for a gift basket and kept a couple for myself–and I am sooo glad I did. They are amazing! I want to try making a half batch all for me–I have a 7 and 3/4 square pan that’s almost exactly half the capacity of a 13 x 9 pan so I’m planning on using that, but I have no idea how long they should take to bake. Any ideas? Thank you! And thank you for all the amazing recipes! My aunt showed me this website and it’s now my go-to for baking.

    So glad you found us… thanks for joining the fun here! I’d give the bars about 5 to 7 minutes less in that smaller pan; you’ll have to test and see the first time, but then write down your results and you should be good to go for succeeding bakes. PJH

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  30. milkwithknives

    Just came by to check this post out again as I’m planning to make these bars in the next week or two (finally!). After doing a fair amount of cookie bar fiddling over the past couple of months, I have come to the conclusion that I really like them best when baked in two 8″ square pans for around 24 minutes. Time and/or temperature adjustments may need to be made depending on the size of the recipe and the wet ingredients, of course, but when done in the smaller pans it seems like the middles get cooked a little better without the edges getting overdone. And the absolute key is to cover and allow them to set for a few hours before cutting. Yes, I learned that here. (grin) The bars are perfectly, PERFECTLY chewy after setting. Anyway, just wanted to respond to aff7978′s above question. I’ll come report back after I try this recipe.

    Thanks so much – I love it when we each share our experiences. “It takes a village” is a cliché, but so apt when describing the vibrant community of bakers we have here… PJH

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  31. bettybrzoska

    Being the devil-may-care baker-in-training that I am I went rogue with these bars and decided to throw caution to the wind and went full-on chocolate. I used semi-sweet chips and chunks of bittersweet and white chocolates. The one and only reason I decided to try this recipe is because it wasn’t a drop cookie that I would wind up eating a dozen of “just to make sure” they tasted good…as if the oozing chocolate out of every pore wasn’t a pretty good clue. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, I found myself unable to resist “just a sample” because heaven forbid I should bring sub-par baked goods to work. Love the site, love the recipes and love all the encouraging and differing voices and opinions. Keep up the great work!

    WOW. I can see that avoiding overindulgence could be a real issue with this version. Did they like them at work? Dumb question, right? :) PJH

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  32. lindaroghaar

    These are delicious! I did not use espresso, and just chocolate chips and walnuts. Yummy, but too gooey unless I followed the cooling directions exactly. Hard to wait for them to really cool, but worth it. Also, they freeze well and taste like a candy bar when eaten directly from the freezer!

    Reply
  33. Indian Home Baker

    Hi PJ! These bars sound and look just the thing when I need gooey and chocolaty but not a brownie again! My query – is the given amount of sugar and chocolate chips a must for the gooey texture? I do not want this to be very sweet. Help!!

    And I must say, love the passion with which you guys work(or have fun rather!), keep rocking!!

    Thanks for your words of encouragement… When you alter the sugar in a bar, yes, it changes its texture. The bar will probably be drier, and more cakey rather than gooey. Rather than alter the sugar, how about using bittersweet chocolate chips; or mixing chopped unsweetened chocolate in with regular chocolate chips? That might provide a nice balance to the sweetness… PJH

    Reply
  34. natzsm

    Do I let them cool completely in the pan or do I take them out of the pan after 15 minutes then cool them completely?

    Cool completely in the pan; they’re kinda messy to try to take out while hot. PJH

    Reply
  35. Rachel

    I have been making Congo Squares since I was in high school. More years ago than I care to count. They have been a family favorite for 40 years and an excellent go-to for a last minute bake sale. BUT they were always great fresh but tasted dried out the next day. Now I discover I’ve been overbaking them. Thank you, KAF, for improving our favorite cookies and I’ll definitely be trying the expresso powder, because everything’s better w/ coffee.

    Reply
  36. ssuch535558

    Hello, PJ,
    Will these travel well? It seems to me to be a good recipe that I can make and mail to my children and grandchildren. Also, if I wanted to add some white wheat, would that be 2 cups a.p. flour and 3/4 cup w.w. (8oz a.p. and 3.5 oz w.w.)?
    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thank you very much.
    HI there,
    A big old “yes” to all questions. The bars are sturdy and will ship well, and I’m sure the recipients will be clamoring for more! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  37. foxy1005

    I would like to make these bars to take to a friends house. Should I use the dark or light brown sugar in this recipe?
    The dark brown sugar has a higher molasses content which will lead to a chewier result. I have made the recipe using both and thought they were wonderful with either choice. ~Amy

    Reply
  38. sundance183

    These look super! I get my eggs at the farm and yesterday all they had was jumbo. Probably one would work for a half batch, or maybe one and a Tbs. of liquid whites, but how to adjust for a whole batch?

    Great question! http://www.aeb.org/foodservice-professionals/egg-products#2 The American Egg Board has sizes of eggs if you scroll down a bit. For jumbo-to-large, adding extra egg isn’t necessary unless you’re using 5 or more eggs. You could add another teaspoon of egg white, but I feel that would just be a waste of the rest of the egg unless you save it as an egg wash for something else or in an omelette! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  39. Atheen

    I have to concur with the other posters. These are amazing! I tried them first with praline and cream flavor, and this time I added Vanilla Butternut and Pecan extract. I also do 2/3 semi sweet choco chips and 1/3 butterscotch chips. The result is pure and unadulterated bliss. My husband had his eyes rolling behind his head and finished the first batch is less than 12 hours…

    Also, as a side note, the cooking time in my oven is 25 to 27 minutes tops. At 27 they were almost cooked through, and not slightly underdone like called for in this particular receipe. My oven is NOT a convection oven, which could have explained the faster cooking time, it’s a traditional oven, and it IS callibrated, I checked with 2 different thermometers after cooking the first batch, so I know that the temperature was accurate. So definitely DO start checking early like another poster suggested.

    Trust me, make these, they whip up in a snatch and you’ll be a hero in your household.

    Reply
  40. Yael

    To make these non-dairy, can I substitute oil for the butter? Would it be the same measurement? Would the consistency of the bars very terribly altered? Please don’t suggest margarine – aaack!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Oil should work or you could use melted shortening or lard. However, I would use about 5 ounces of oil along with 3/8ths of an ounce of water. Jon@KAF

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