any-way-you-like cookie bars

cookie bars with sprinkle topping and cookie bars with coconut topping

Are you looking for a delicious, simple-to-make, yet impressive treat? That’s customizable, whether you like mini marshmallows and crushed candy canes, or sea salt and coarsely chopped coffee beans? This recipe is for you.

December is a busy month for holiday baking. And though many of us are not visiting and entertaining this year the way we usually do, it’s still nice to bake sweet treats. And you can still share them: wrap up some home baking and leave it at a friend’s door step, or pack it carefully and mail a sweet box to family.

These cookie bars are delicious, but also special because you can top them with anything you like. Sliced almonds or rainbow sprinkles. Toffee bits or shredded coconut. Pretzel pieces or a sprinkle of cinnamon. Anything you like.

I know this looks like a lot of steps, but read through the recipe and you’ll see it is easy, all the steps are just building the delicious layers:

The cookie base comes together quickly with just a spoon and bowl, no need to lug a heavy appliance out of the cabinet. Just line an 8″x8″ baking pan and press the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. While it’s baking, make the toffee layer on the stove top. Once you finish scattering chocolate over the base and toffee layers, go ahead and prep your toppings. You’re just a sprinkle away from finishing.

COOKIE BASE

  • ¼ cup soft butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp water

TOFFEE LAYER

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar

CHOCOLATE & TOPPINGS

¾ cup chocolate chips

Toppings of your choice (the amount will vary, depending on the topping chosen: you could expect to use ½ cup of chopped nuts or candies, but not of coarse salt). Suggested toppings: chopped nuts, crushed coffee beans, coarse salt, sprinkles (there are so many options available!), crushed candy cane, coconut, pretzel pieces, dried fruit, crispy rice cereal, toffee bits, graham cookie crumbs, chopped candy-coated chocolate such as m&ms, mini mashmallows.

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350; Line a 8×8” baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving 1” or more overhang for lifting out the bars later.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until creamy; add the vanilla; add the remaining ingredients and stir until dough begins to stick in clumps. Tip into the lined baking pan and press evenly to fill the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine toffee ingredients in a small pot and melt together over medium low heat. The butter will separate, but stir well once everything is melted and it will become a thick cohesive mix.
  4. Once the cookie base is baked, pour the hot toffee over top, and tip the pan to evenly coat the whole base. Return to the hot oven and bake for 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven to a cooling rack and immediately scatter ¾ cup of chocolate chips evenly over the hot toffee; leave the chocolate untouched for 5 minutes, then gently spread the now-soft chocolate with a knife, reaching to all the edges. Distribute the toppings over the melted chocolate and leave to set into the chocolate as it cools, at least one hour. Cut into 24 or 36 pieces, as you wish.
cookie bars with chocolate and peanuts

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