Archive for: Cookies – Bar Cookies and Brownies
You can pack just about anything in a lunchbox today, especially since there are so many insulated lunchboxes with kid-friendly designs that will keep things cold on a hot day. When it comes to school lunches, however, I can’t help but think of bar cookies as being the perfect, packable snack. They’re usually sturdy enough to stand up to being stuffed into a lucnh bag in a backpack, they don’t take up much space, and there are an almost limitless number of flavors that you can put into them to appeal to any kid. Most recipes also keep very well, so you can bake one batch over the weekend and have them around all week – if they last. Here are my top 5 favorite, packable back-to-school bar cookies that are perfect for lunchboxes.
- Banana Brownies with Cacao Nibs pack in all the chocolatey goodness of a regular brownie, but with the addition of banana. Banana not only gives these brownies a great flavor, but makes them incredibly moist. The cacao nibs add a nice crunchy element, but you could also use other nuts or even chocolate chips.
- Chocolate Chip Blondies are a staple that you can’t beat. Buttery, chewy and downright addictive, these bar cookies are always a crowd pleaser. I put dried cherries and pistachios in mine, which gives them a great color, but you can always mix things up with other fruits and nuts.
- Lemon Apricot Walnut Bars are a simple, layered bar cookie that is perfect for fans of fruity desserts because they are reminiscent of a fruit cobbler – in a much more portable form. The bars have a generous layer of apricot preserves (use good quality preserves) sandwiched between layers of lemony shortbread.
- Snickerdoodle Blondies are a bar cookie version of a classic lunchbox cookie, the Snickerdoodle. The vanilla bars taste like sugar cookies and are topped with a coating of cinnamon sugar that really captures the flavor of a snickerdoodle. They’re so easy to make that this one is sure to make it into regular rotation.
- Black and White Brownie Bars have something for everyone, with a rich dark chocolate layer on top of a sweet, but equally rich, white chocolate brownie layer. They look beautiful and are definitely a change of pace from ordinary brownies – but don’t take any more time or effort to make.
Fudgy, rich tasting Chocolate Revel Bars are bound to be a hit with chocolate lovers – and have been with everyone I’ve served them to. But I like white chocolate just as much as dark chocolate, so I decided to work out a white chocolate variation of the chocolate-filled bar cookie.
While the original Revel Bars have layers of oatmeal cookie dough sandwiching a chocolate fudge center, these White Chocolate Coconut Revel Bars have layers of coconut oatmeal cookie dough around a white chocolate fudge center. I added some shredded coconut to the cookie dough because coconut works very well with white chocolate and that adds another dimension of flavor to the bar and gives it a very slightly tropical feel. The filling is quite sweet, so I added a generous amount of salted cashews to the topping for contrast and to balance out the flavors a little bit more. As always, use good quality white chocolate with real cocoa butter for the best result – the cheap versions will produce a result that is far too sweet and not nearly as delicious.
The bars are thick and chewy, and the fudge center melts in your mouth with each bite. The salted cashews are a great addition to the bar, but salted macadamia nuts are another good option to try for variety. Thse bars keep very well and are the perfect sort of dessert to bring to a bake sale or a party – especially if you also serve them up alongside a batch of the dark chocolate version!
Brownies are the most common chocolate bar cookie out there, and unless you’re throwing chocolate chips into some cookie dough that you’re going to bake into bar cookies, you’re probably going to turn to baking a batch of brownies when you’re looking for a chocolate baked good fix in bar form. I say “probably” because a batch of Chocolate Revel Bars should be right up there in contention for the top snack spot where easy to make chocolatey baked goods are concerned.
Revel bars consist of two layers of oatmeal cookie dough sandwiching a fudge-like chocolate filling. The oatmeal cookie dough is similar to a regular oatmeal cookie, and the same dough is used for both the base and the topping of these bars. The filling is rich and creamy, with a great chocolate flavor and that hint of chewiness that you might expect to find in good fudge. It is a very easy to throw together, as the filling is primarily made with sweetened condensed milk and chocolate. It sounds so simple that you almost wouldn’t expect the finished product to be as good as it is. I like to use dark or bittersweet chocolate for these bars (regular semisweet chocolate chips are just fine, too) because I like the fact that they bring a little bit more intense chocolate flavor to the table. The dark filling is a great match for the buttery, oaty cookie base and topping.
I always add some additional chocolate chips and chopped nuts to the topping of my revel bars because I like the contrast of adding some additional texture and flavor. Pecans and walnuts both work extremely well with the chocolate and oatmeal components of this bar cookie, so feel free to use either type of nut. I like to use a toasted, salted nut to add a little more of a salty-sweet element to these bars that makes them seem even more indulgent than they already are.
Blondies are one of my favorite bar cookies to make. They have all the flavor of a good, buttery chocolate chip cookie with the rich, tender texture of a brownie – with a bit less chocolate, of course. They’re very versatile cookies and you can mix almost anything into them. This is probably why I tend to get a little carried away when I bake a batch and start going through my cupboards looking for extra goodies to tuck in there – and why I have to restrain myself from throwing in the kitchen sink!
These are Chocolate Chip Blondies with Pistachios and Cherries. The dough is a basic blondie dough that I use as a base for many add ins. It has a similar ingredient list to chocolate chip cookie dough, but uses melted butter and does not use any leavening. Both of these things help to give the finished blondies that tender, chewy and slightly fudgy texture that you want to get in a blondie, as the texture is what sets them apart from other bar cookies.
I like pistachios and dried cherries in these partly because I like the flavor combination and partly because they’re a beautiful color combination. Feel free to substitute other fruits and nuts to suit your personal tastes or what you have in the kitchen. Pecans and dried cranberries would be a good match, as would almonds and dried blueberries. In fact, I might just have to bake another batch to try some out myself!
Snickerdoodles are a classic American cookie, a bake-sale staple. They’re essentially sugar cookies that have been rolled in cinnamon sugar before baking, which gives them a crisp and flavorful crust to contrast a moist, sweet interior. This recipe gives that classic a little twist by turning the cookies into a batch of blondies.
What makes these blondies as opposed to just cookies in bar form is the texture. Usually, snickerdoodles have cream of tartar and baking soda in them. There is no leavening in this recipe so, like brownies, the blondies have a slightly dense and chewy center to them. This makes them satisfyingly brownie-like in spite of their sugar cookie flavor. It also makes them very addictive because the contrast between the crisp crust and chewy center is very hard to pass up.
This recipe doesn’t make a big batch, and it is pretty easy to much your way through a pan full if you if you have a crowd of friends (or kids) over to help eat. Fortunately, the recipe doubles easily. That said, I still like it best when baked in a square pan because you end up with just the right amount of crispy edge and chewy center. The vanilla flavor also comes through in the finished cookie and stands up nicely against the cinnamon-heavy topping. Definitely a keeper, and as much as I like classic snickerdoodles, I think I just might go for a batch of these over the more traditional cookies next time!