Tag Archives: bar cookies

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Salted Caramel Bars

Salted Caramel Bars

DAY 10: Salted Caramel Bars

A tender bar cookie with a sweet layer of salted caramel. You can use caramel sauce from a jar, or try the homemade recipe below. You will never go back after trying it! The salted caramel recipe below makes more than you will need for the bar cookies, but I’m sure you can find other uses for the leftovers (apples, ice cream, pies, your finger).


Salted Caramel Bars

Makes 16 bars

Salted Caramel Bars

(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup  Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” square baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil; set aside.

Place the melted butter in a large bowl and whisk in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until well mixed.

Press half of the dough into the prepared pan. Pour the salted caramel sauce onto the center of the dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about a ½-inch of space around the edges. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread  until the caramel is covered.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a thin coating of caramel.

Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into 16 squares and serve.


Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
1 – 1 ½ tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (and/or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)

Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan). Cook over medium heat until sugar just begins to melt. Stir gently, trying to keep sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts completely and is a medium amber color (about 350°F if you use an instant-read thermometer). Reduce heat to low and quickly whisk in butter chunks, stirring constantly.

Stir in cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel immediately into a glass jar or heat-safe bowl to cool. Do NOT scrape sides or bottom of the pan with a spatula. If you do, you are likely to get sugar crystals into your nice smooth caramel. If the caramel has formed crystals while cooking, you can pour it from the pan through a fine sieve into the jar to remove any crystals before cooling.

Caramel can be kept in a covered jar at room temperature for several weeks.


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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Almond Toffee Triangles

Almond Toffee Triangles

DAY 9: Almond Toffee Triangles

A shortbread crust, topped with a sliced almond caramel mixture and then baked to perfection.

Easy peasy!

Almond Toffee Triangles 2



Almond Toffee Triangles

Almond Toffee Triangles

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of a 15×10” pan.

Use a mixer to cream butter and powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla. Slowly beat in flour and salt. Press evenly into greased pan.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

While crust is cooking, prepare topping. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almonds. Pour topping over HOT crust; spread evenly.

Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes, or until topping is set. Cool completely. Cut into 2 ½ inch squares. Cut each square in half diagonally.

Makes 48 triangles

**To prepare in a 17×13” pan: prepare 1 ½ times the recipe.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 2

DAY 4: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These should be called “Super-Easy-One-Bowl-No-Mixer-I-Forgot-To-Make-Cookies-For-The-Bake-Sale-Tomorrow-Don’t-Even-Have-To-Soften-The-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Bars”

They are that easy.

These cookies will stay nice and chewy (without burnt edges and soggy middle) if you bake them in two 8×8” pans instead of one 9×13” pan.

Since we have one non-chocolate eater, I usually prepare the batter without the chocolate chips, put half of the batter in one pan and sprinkle the top with cinnamon/sugar. Then stir some chocolate chips into the remaining batter and put the chocolate chip version in the other pan.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 1


Easy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 2

1 cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8” square baking pans (or spray with Baking Pam).

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Stir sugar and brown sugar into melted butter until incorporated. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the  flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pans.

Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and then cut into squares.

Makes 32 bars


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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars

Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars

DAY 8: Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars

Cheesecake and Nutella. I don’t think any more enticement is needed.

An easy cheesecake bar recipe that will feed a crowd, and you don’t have to fight with a water bath.


Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars

Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars

2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers (about 1 ½ sleeves)
6 Tbs butter, melted
2 Tbs sugar

4 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs flour
2 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix crushed graham crackers, butter and sugar and press into a 1/2 sheet pan for thin bars or a 9×13” pan for thicker bars (you may want less crust for 9×13” pan).

Using a mixer, blend cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla and salt until well blended. Beat in eggs just until mixed through. Pour over crust. Warm Nutella in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Drizzle over cheesecake batter. Use a knife to swirl.

Place a broiler pan (or other large pan) on the bottom rack of the oven. Pour about 1/2” of hot water in the pan. Place cheesecake pan on the middle oven rack. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes for a 1/2 sheet pan, or about 45 minutes for a 9×13” pan, or until set.

Makes about 48 bars (in a ½ sheet pan)


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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Raspberry Blondies

Raspberry Blondies 1

DAY 3: Raspberry Swirl Blondies

Raspberry is a popular flavor around here. These bars start with a simple-to-make cookie base (you don’t even have to soften your butter first), then have raspberry jam swirled into the top.

I used this homemade Low-Sugar Red Raspberry Jam that we made from home-grown raspberries.

I originally tried baking these in one 9×13” pan, but I could not get the center to set without burning the edges. So now I cook them in two 8” square pans to get more even baking. If that is more cookies than you need (is that possible?), halve the recipe and use one square pan.


Raspberry Swirl Blondies

Raspberry Blondies 1

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8” square baking pans (or spray with Baking Pam).

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Stir sugar into melted butter until incorporated. Mix in the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Stir in the  flour, baking powder, and salt. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pans. Spoon the raspberry jam over the batter. Use a knife to swirl the jam through the batter.

Bake at 350°F for 25-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and then cut into squares.

Makes 32 bars

Note: Heat jam in the microwave until warm for easier swirling.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Scottish Shortbread

Shortbread 3

Welcome to the Fifth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies. Twelve days of cookies and treats perfect to share with friends and family or for a delicious holiday table of your own.

DAY 1: Sometimes simplicity makes for the best cookies. There is nothing fancy about this shortbread. Just good, quality ingredients that combine to make a cookie that melts in your mouth. A perfect companion to a cup of homemade hot cocoa.

Shortbread 1

For a fancier treat, dip half of each cookie in melted dark chocolate.


Scottish Shortbread

Shortbread 3

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
4 ½ cups flour
OPTIONAL: 6 oz dark chocolate (about 1 cup chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Make sure that butter is very soft, but not melted. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour, mixing well.

Lightly sprinkle flour on a pastry board or mat. Gently press dough into a rectangle ½” thick (about 10”x 12”). Cut dough into 1” strips lengthwise and then into 2-3” wide rectangles. Prick each cookie with a fork about 4 times.

Use a thin metal spatula to transfer unbaked cookies to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a small space between cookies. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes. Do not brown. Cool on a wire rack.

OPTIONAL: Melt chocolate and pour into a narrow bowl or cup. Dip half of each cooled cookie in the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper or wax paper to harden.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


More cookies to tempt your taste buds:

First Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

Second Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

Fourth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)


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Twelve Days of Christmas: Snickerdoodle Bars

Snickerdoodle Bars1

DAY 5: Snickerdoodle Bars

A delicious cinnamon layered bar with the tang of snickerdoodles in an easy to prepare bar cookie.


Snickerdoodle Bars

  • Servings: Makes 2 dozen bar cookies
  • Print

Snickerdoodle Bars1

2 1/3 cup flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Filling:
½ Tbs ground cinnamon
2 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar using a mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Continue to mix until just combined.

Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. Spoon half of the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Mix the cinnamon filling ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Using a spoon, dollop the remaining batter across the cinnamon filling; do not cover the cinnamon mixture completely.

Bake for 20–25 minutes or until lightly golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

(Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookie Bars

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DAY 7: Sugar Cookie Bars

Love sugar cookies, but hate all of the work rolling, cutting and decorating? These sugar cookie bars are the perfect substitute. The dough makes a thick, soft sugar-cookie-flavored bar cookie that you can top with your favorite icing and fun holiday sprinkles. These are topped by one of our favorites, a cooked vanilla frosting.


Sugar Cookie Bars

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1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup whole milk
5 Tbs flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (do not use powdered sugar)
Optional: food coloring

Prepare bars:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Mix in vanilla and almond extract, if using.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased, rimmed baking sheet (you can use either a 12×17” pan for thinner bars or a 10×15” pan for slightly thicker bars).

Bake: 10-15 minutes for a 12×17” pan or 15-20 minutes for a 10×15” pan, until light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. Frost with desired frosting and add sprinkles, if using. Refrigerate the bars until firm… it will be easier to get nice, clean cuts.

Prepare frosting:
In a small saucepan, mix the flour and milk until combined. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens (and is just about to boil). Remove from heat and let it cool completely to room temperature.  Stir in vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer works best for this) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled milk mixture and beat for 5-7 minutes, until frosting is light, fluffy and completely uniform throughout.  Beat in food coloring, if desired.

Yield: about 32 bars


Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl

Other Frosting Options:
Swiss Meringue Buttercream


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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Nanaimo Bars

100711 006-1DAY 6: Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo is a little town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is where my dear husband spent the first half of his childhood. These bars have a controversial history all their own, but Canadians are ever true to these bars originating in their little seaside town. More info and the recipe officially adopted by Nanaimo can be found on the Nanaimo city website.

These bars are definitely more like a candy than cookie. If you remember that before you take a great big bite, they will not seem so outrageously sweet. Think  “double frosted fudge”  not “brownie”  and you will take appropriate nibbles that will keep your blood sugar in check.


Nanaimo Bars

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Bottom Layer
½ cup butter (European style cultured)
¼ cup sugar
5 Tbs cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup shredded coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, almonds and coconut. Press firmly into a buttered 8″ x 8″ pan.

Middle Layer
½ cup unsalted butter
2 Tbs plus 2 tsp cream
2 Tbs vanilla custard powder (Birds’ Custard Powder)
½ tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbs unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator until firm.  Cut into small squares.


Recipe from the City of Nanaimo website


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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cherry Shortbread Squares


DAY 3: Cherry Shortbread Squares

These shortbread squares are light and tender, not hard and crumbly; almost more like a short little cake than a cookie, but firm enough to hold in your hand to eat.

The batter mixes together quickly, and is then spread onto a baking sheet. Use a toothpick to lightly score the batter into 24 squares. The lines will disappear as the cookies bake, but they make it easier to know where to place your cherries. The cherry topping is simply cherry pie filling-I used some that I canned this summer from tart cherries, but any variety of canned pie filling will work. Place about 3 cherries in the center of each square. As the cookies bake, the pie filling will sink about halfway into the batter. Little A loves these cookies: they are light and slightly lemony, and not a hint of chocolate.

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And if you are really  lucky  talented, you will get some cookies that bear a striking resemblance to Mickey Mouse:1-11-11 001-1


Cherry Shortbread Squares


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or 1 Tbs lemon juice)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can cherry pie filling or berry pie filling
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a half-sheet pan (about 12×17 inches) with a 1-inch rim, or spray it with baking cooking spray (with flour).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the lemon extract, lemon zest, vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl. On the lowest speed, stir in the flour until just barely mixed.

Spread the batter onto the sheet pan and smooth it into an even layer. Score the batter into 24-30 squares with a toothpick (don’t worry about perfectly even squares as the lines will disappear during baking; it just makes placing the cherries easier). Place 3 cherries in the center of each square.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Just before serving, cut into 24 squares and dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Makes 24 3-inch squares


Recipe from Piece of Cake


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