Make bars instead

I love baking. I truly do. The difference between a bad afternoon and a good one can be as simple as a baked good. I love the slow process, the premonition of preheating the oven, sometimes playing around with different flavors. My favorites are your typical "home bakes," nothing couture. Cakes, cookies, brownies, etc., are all my go-to baked goods to make in my own kitchen.

But cookies. Ah, I enjoy mixing the dough and I enjoy eating them, but all that happens in between drives me nuts. Even drop cookies—rolling them into balls and loading the oven, one tray at a time, checking for doneness, taking the oven mitt off and on and washing my hands a several times between rolling batches and it drives me crazy.

Enter: bars. Or traybakes as Mary Berry would say. I love them. Something about bars feels very Midwestern and potluck-y to me. The other night, I wanted to bake, but with a baby and no desire to prepare/bake/check on/cool multiple cookie sheets, I decided to mix up my dough and bake it in a pan instead. It's not a novel idea, since cookie bars have long been a thing. But it got me thinking, could we make more cookie recipes into bars? To make them more accessible for say, weekday baking or postpartum baking (for me, anyway)? I think so! It all comes down to the texture of the cookie.

I've trialed out two cookies-recipes-turned-bars and both were successful. Key things to think of:

  • texture of the cookie. I think this works best with shortbread-style or classic cookies texture. Your crinkle-style cookie (molasses, gingerbread, etc., might not work as well for a traybake)
  • increased baking time (see what I did for the two recipes below)
  • prepared and adequately-sized pan, based on how large of a batch of cookies the recipe prepares. Both the below recipes yield smaller quantities, so I chose a smaller pan. If I made a large batch of cookies into bars, I would use a 9" x 13".

And there you have it! In both cases, I baked the cookies-turned-bars at the same temperature, just for longer.

I love that I can just dump the dough in the pan, spread it evenly, put it in the oven, and walk away. Plus, I love the portability and nostalgia of bringing bars to potlucks or family functions. I'm going to be on the hunt for more cookie recipes I can convert, but for now, I'm thrilled that two of my most favorite cookie recipes work out.

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