True confessions time: I can often be found loitering around the bars. Not drinking establishments (I'm a teetotaler). I'm talking about cookie bars – those 8x8 or 9x13 pans of baked yumminess that are so perfect for after-school snacks, morning coffee breaks or anytime you need a sweet little pick-me-up.
Cookie bars have a lot going for them: they're less fussy to make than individual cookies, they're generally quick and easy to mix up, come in an endless variety of flavors and you can often modify them using ingredients you have on hand (see caramel oatmeal bars below).
When I want a bar buzz, here are three of my favorites:
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Bars.
Tastefully Simple's newest bar mix is a luscious delight made just as directed on the box. Think chocolatey cream cheese sandwiched between layers of fudgy chocolate crust. If I'm feeling particularly decadent, I'll drizzle 'em with a little raspberry sauce and add a few fresh berries. They say dark chocolate is good for you. If that's true, I'll just keep these bars on hand and plan to live forever.
Nana's Caramel Oatmeal Bars.
You know what I said about making substitutions? The other day I decided to make Nana's Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars. Just one problem: I didn't have any cinnamon chips on hand (and such exotic fare isn't available in my small town grocery). I did have a package of caramel chips. Simple substitution. Delicious results. Am I a genius, or what? (Hint: Why not go full-on caramel crazy and spoon some warmed Creamy Caramel Sauce over these?)
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.
Ah, pumpkin season. It's so brief … yet so memorable. Pumpkin Bread & Maple Glaze Mix is all the best of autumn in a box: sweet pumpkin, fall spices and maple goodness. With so much luscious already on board, it's not really necessary to add a cheesecake filling – but it certainly can't hurt! These bars, topped with pecans and drizzled with the maple glaze, will make you wish autumn lasted all year long. (Tip: I made these in an 8x8 pan and they made a tall bar; try a 9x9 or 9x13 for a thinner bar.)
Next time you're in a mood to get happy, skip the tavern and belly up to the cookie bar instead. Cheers to delicious times!