Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I borrowed Flo Braker's latest cookbook, Baking for all Occasions, a few weeks ago. I didn't get a chance to try many recipes before I had to return it, but I photocopied a few for future testing. The recipes are interesting- many of them have creative names and mix new flavors with old techniques (a streusel topped cake with fresh pineapple and hazelnuts, anyone?)

This recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake caught my eye because it's simple, versatile, and yields a large quantity. It's basically a chocolate chip cookie dough that's pressed into a 9x13 pan and sliced into squares. Braker's book includes instructions for turning the same dough into individual cookies or chocolate chip biscotti.

For this recipe, it's important to use well softened butter. The goal is to incorporate as little air into the dough as possible to make the texture more like a cookie than a cake. The texture will also vary greatly with baking time- the cake becomes crunchier the longer you bake it. Nuts and chocolate chips play a big role in flavor, and you'll have very different results depending on what you use.

The finished bars aren't as rich tasting as some blondies or cookies. I'm interested in trying a variation using more brown sugar, or peanut butter. Both could lead to a chewier texture. I like using big pieces of chocolate for a nice visual and textural contrast. I used Nestle chocolate chunks for this batch, but any large chocolate pieces would work well.

These were a huge hit at work, and several people asked for the recipe. Over a few days, the texture improved and the cinnamon flavor became more pronounced. I only used 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the flavor was still quite strong. The bars are great snacks to have on hand and they keep for a relatively long time. I usually line the pan with foil so I can just lift the bars out when they're done.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Flo Braker's Baking for all Occasions

2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (130 grams) light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups (340 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (115 grams) chopped walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or a combination
*You can omit the nuts and mix in an additional 1 cup (170g) chocolate chips

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350F. Have ready a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon (if using), and baking soda and mix on the lowest speed just until blended. Add the butter and continue to mix until small, moist crumbs form that look similar to streusel, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until the mixture begins to form a cohesive dough. Increase the speed to medium and add the chocolate chips and nuts. Beat just until they are incorporated- 20 to 30 seconds.

3. Spoon dollows of the thick dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan with a rubber spatula. To distribute the dough evenly, lay a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper over the dough and pat it evenly with your fingertips.

4. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and feels more solid than soft when pressed in the center- 37-40 minutes. Be careful not to overbake- it will firm as it cools. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 30-35 minutes.

5. Slip a thin metal spatula between the cake and the pan and run the spatula along the entire perimeter of the pan. Lift the pan, tilt it slightly, and tap it on a counter to help release the cake. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and lift it out of the pan. Invert so it is right side up and let cool completely.

If serving within 2 days, wrap the cake in foil and store at room temperature. For longer storage, freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature for about 3 hours.To serve, cut the cake into squares, rectanges, or sticks with a sharp knife.

7 comments:

Snooky doodle said...

THESE LOOK DELICIOUS. I WOULD LIKE TO EAT A BAR.

Helene said...

Oh my, this look so good. I bookmarked it. Thanks.

Nicky said...

These look wonderful, but how much baking soda is required?
Thanks!

slowlikehoney.net said...

You know, I got this book for Christmas and have yet to make a single thing out of it. For some reason, the recipes haven't calling out to me. I saw this recipe and wondered if it'd turn out ok. From your pictures, they look pretty good. You are right about the different flavors and ingredients in the book. It's a creative approach to baking, I guess.

Pittsburgh Needs Eated said...

Nicky-
Thanks for noticing that error, and i've corrected it.

Amanda-
I felt the same way about a lot of recipes in the book. It definitely had a different feel from Braker's other books. I think i'd been expecting a follow-up to The Simple Art of Perfect Baking.

That said, I think there are some recipes worth trying.

MAIA said...

I absolutely love brownies and choc, chip cookies! The 2 together, just might be a dangerous combination 4 me.

thnx 4 posting this :)

P.S: I LOVE UR BLOG,
UR VERY TALENTED!

Monica said...

It's nice that you can keep your co-workers happy with yummy treats :-)