Posted by betsy
When it comes to cookies, I think I’m a lazy baker. I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that I love the convenience of a few rolls of refrigerator or icebox cookie dough stashed in the freezer. Bar cookies are a close second as my other favorite type of cookie to bake. There’s no fussy shaping. You bake, cool, cut, and you have cookies for a crowd.
My latest quest is to come up with a few base recipes for my favorite baked goods, recipes that have the texture I prefer, but can be varied with mix-ins based on what I have around or what I crave. I’m still working on scone recipes that makes the grade, one with buttermilk and one with cream or sweet milk. However, I think I’ve struck gold with a chewy bar cookie.
I’ll warn you that this bar cookie is very sweet, but the texture is meltingly good. It uses melted butter, so there’s none of the preplanning involved with recipes calling for room temperature butter. Other than measuring cups and spoons, this can be mixed in the saucepan where you melt the butter, so cleanup is minimal.
I’ve made this with nuts, nuts and chocolate, and, most recently, with oatmeal and dried fruit. I think your imagination can take it in some many different directions.
½ cup unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
Mix-ins of your choice (see below for suggestions)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch pan.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove from heat, and add the brown sugar, and stir to combine completely. There shouldn’t be any dry sugar left. Cool for 5 minutes.
Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour and salt. Now add your desired mix-ins and stir well.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. It will be stiff, so it probably won’t pour in. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is set and lightly browned.
Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove the entire slab from the pan, and continue cooling on a wire rack.
When slightly warm or at room temperature, cut into squares. I prefer 1½-inch squares, but you could make them bigger, smaller, or even a different shape. Cutting larger squares in half to make triangles are pretty.
Mix-in Ideas (one or more, but no more than 3 cups total)
1 cup chopped nuts. Pecans are particularly good.
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped dried fruit
1½ cups rolled oats (not instant)