Happy (belated) Patriots’ Day, everyone! What, you don’t know what that is? Don’t feel bad…growing up in Southern California I’d never heard of it either, but trust me that it’s a big deal in Massachusetts. Patriots’ Day commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 (the “shot heard ‘round the world”) that signaled the start of the American Revolution. There are reenactments of Paul Revere’s (and William Dawes’) midnight rides, battle recreations, parades…oh, and Boston hosts a little event for upwards of 30,000 runners called the Boston Marathon. Yup, big deal is quite the understatement. I wanted to bring a treat for my co-workers to celebrate Patriots’ Day and the Marathon (I work about a quarter mile from the Finish line, and just getting into the building was a feat in itself, what with the rain and security checkpoints!). There were a lot of us and feeding a crowd cookies required either a lot of portioning-out time in the kitchen or I had to look for a shortcut. The shortcut route won out!
Luckily, I happened across a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction that fit the bill…Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. The recipe doubled well, so making a lot was just a matter of cutting the bars to a manageable size. It was easy, too…since we used melted butter, there was no need to break out the mixer to cream butter and sugar together. You just mixed up the dough, patted it into a pan, baked it, and…yummmmm…
Speaking of melted butter, I upped the ante of this recipe by browning the melted butter. Why? Brown butter toasts the milk solids in the butter, giving it a wonderfully rich nutty flavor that really amps up the volume of what you’re making. And it’s easy to do: browning butter is just cooking the butter past melting until it turns a dark brown color and smells nutty. You have to be vigilant though…the butter can go from brown to burnt in a few seconds, so watch it carefully and take it off the heat and into another container as soon as the color turns amber (black butter is not what we’re after!). It’s best to use a light-colored pan to brown butter, but since I don’t have one, I settled for a white spatula instead (hey, I just work with what I have).
Side note: That funny looking tool I used to mix my batter is the Dough Whisk from King Arthur Flour. It works really well mixing up bread dough to cake batter, and much more in between. I don’t receive anything from King Arthur Flour to tell you this…I just want to share with you a tool I find useful. Now back to our regularly scheduled post in progress…
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction (My notes are in italics below)
Yield: 16 bars
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours (plus cooling)
- 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (Note: you can brown the butter for added yumminess)
- 1 cup (200g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- optional: sprinkle of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan when cool. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, whisk in the vanilla extract. The mixture will be thick. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until combined. The dough will be very soft, yet thick. Fold in the chocolate chips. The chips may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter but do your best to combine them.
- Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan and press/smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with sea salt if desired. Also, I like to press a few more chocolate chips on top of the dough before baking (I do this just for looks!). Bake for 32-35 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Use a toothpick to test for doneness; if it comes out clean from the center of the pan, the bars are done.
- Allow the bars to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for at least an hour. Once relatively cool, lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares (Note: I split the squares to get more yield…my way made 4 dozen servings when the recipe was doubled). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Make ahead tip: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to come to room temperature and continue with step 4. Baked cookie bars freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw bars overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
9×13 pan: You can double this recipe to fit into a 9×13 baking pan. (Note: that’s what I did).The bars will take longer to cook through, about 40 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Use a toothpick to test for doneness. (Note: in my oven it took 30 minutes to be done, so check the bars early if your oven runs hot)
These bars were chewy, buttery, and gloriously chocolatey…truly the best of what a chocolate chip cookie had to offer without having to portion out dough. It’s too bad there isn’t a “smell-o-blog” setting here because my kitchen smelled incredible while the bars were in the oven…think sweet brown sugar and hazelnuts (or maybe, think a good Speyside scotch!). My co-workers devoured the bars quickly…next time I’ll have to double-double the recipe and maybe even cut them smaller so more people can enjoy them. When I took some to my daughter, she immediately agreed that the brown butter added more wonderfulness to an already wonderful recipe (I think her exact words were, “These are the best chocolate chip bars ever!”). So if you’re feeding a crowd (or just feeling lazy), these bars will be a big hit without too much effort, and that’s a fact I want to shout ‘round the world!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!