Bar cookies: Fast, easy, delicious

When in a hurry to bake a batch of cookies for a bake sale, school party, children’s party or just as a treat for the family, the fastest ones to make are bar cookies. You mix the batter and spread in a greased pan and bake. Then you can cut the delicious goodies as big or small as you wish.

Most bar cookies are quite moist and yummy to eat, with or without a frosting. There is the famous brownie that has a fudgy consistency that few can resist, cookies with a crust and filling and cookies made with applesauce or pumpkin.

Cutting bars is easier if the bars are scored right as the pan leaves the oven. When cooled, cut along the scored lines. And to accomplish a quick frosting effect, chocolate, peanut butter or any type of baking chip can be sprinkled on top of the pan just removed from the oven. When melted, take a knife and spread the chocolate around. Chopped nuts, coconut or peanuts can be sprinkled on top.

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This cookie is from the “Let’s Get Cooking” cookbook compiled by Helen McDiffitt and her family. It is one where you melt chocolate on top and spread it for frosting. This is her recipe.

Hershey Bar cookies

1 large Hershey milk chocolate bar

1 cup margarine

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 cups sifted flour

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Cream thoroughly all ingredients except the chocolate bar. Put on ungreased baking cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Take out of oven and place pieces of the Hershey boar on top. When all is melted, spread evenly across entire cookie. Sprinkle with nuts while still hot. Cut into squares when cool.

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Helen McDiffitt has a nice assortment of bar cookies in her desserts category. This one has both pumpkin puree and shredded carrots in the batter and is Helen’s recipe as well.


Swirl Bars

2 cups flour

2 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup soda

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

15-ounce can pureed pumpkin

1 cup finely shredded carrot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15-by- 10-inch jelly roll pan. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda in small bowl. Beat sugar, butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until crumbly. Add eggs, pumpkin and carrots; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; mix well. Spread into prepared pan. Drop teaspoonfuls of cream cheese topping, (recipe follows) over batter. Swirl mixture with spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Cream cheese


4 ounces softened cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon milk in small bowl. Mix until thoroughly blended.

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This is another recipe from the McDiffitt cookbook. This recipe has an oatmeal crust, a lemon-flavored cream cheese filling and an oatmeal crust, sort of like a delicious sandwich.

Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars

2 sticks butter, unsalted at room temperature, cut into pea-sized pieces

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

11-ounce bag butterscotch chips

8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drape a 8-by-9 by-13-inch pan with overlapping pieces of aluminum foil, creating handles for easy removal. Butter the paper and reserve. In a food processor, add the flour, oats and brown sugar and pulse to combine. Add the butter, cinnamon and the butterscotch chips. Pulse until the mixture forms clumps when pressed between fingers. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a prepared pan in an even layer. Reserve the other half. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven just until slightly golden and set, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Beat together cream cheese, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla until no lumps of cream cheese remain. Spread evenly over the baked and cooled oatmeal mixture. Sprinkle the remaining half of the oatmeal mixture over the cream cheese. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool and chill before cutting. Run a knife around the edge of pan. Using the foil handles, transfer the bars to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares.

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This recipe is from a very old Southern Living Five-Star Recipe Collection. The Mississippi Mud Brownies have marshmallows, pecans and a rich chocolate flavor.

Mississippi Mud Brownies

Four 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup butter or margarine

2 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 eggs beaten

1 cup chopped pecans

3 cups miniature marshmallows

Combine chocolate and butter in a large saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring until chocolate and butter melt. Remove mixture from heat. Combine sugar, flour and slat; add to chocolate mixture. Add eggs and chopped pecans; stir until blended. Spoon batter into a lightly greased and floured 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over hot brownies. Frost with fudge frosting. Cool and cut into about 24 bars.

Fudge frosting:

Two 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup butter or margarine

5 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine chocolate, milk and butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate and butter melt. Remove from heat. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Makes 2 1/3 cups frosting.

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These bar cookies have a creamy almond flavored topping over a chocolate crumb crust, with sliced, toasted almonds.

Almond Cream Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten slightly

1 /4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Combine first six ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until butter melts and mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped almonds and coconut. Press mixture firmly into an ungreased 9-inch square pan. Cover and chill thoroughly. Make creamy frosting and spread over chilled almond mixture. Cover and chill thoroughly. Melt 2 semisweet chocolate squares and 1 tablespoon butter in small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool. Spoon melted chocolate mixture into a zip-lock bag. Using scissors, cut a small snip in a corner of the bag and squeeze chocolate in a zig-zag over the frosting. Top each bar with toasted almond slices. Cut chilled mixture into 16 bars. Remove from pan.

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