High Country Baking: Chocolate chip bars
High Country Baking
Chocolate chip cookies … chewy, chocolatey, brown sugar heaven, it’s no wonder they’re America’s favorite. Unfortunately, most of the recipes for them don’t work well at high elevations. But don’t despair, these bar cookies, adjusted for altitude, taste like them and are much easier to make.
They’re in the oven with 15 minutes of active time, use only two bowls, and don’t require a mixer. The chocolate chips can be replaced by other add-ins, so the recipe gives you numerous options. Try butterscotch or caramel chips or add nuts or chopped-up candy bars. I sprinkled in some Heath Bits O’ Brickle when I made the ones in the photo and love the little crunch of toffee it provides.
What matters? The chewy texture that makes them so good requires using lump-free brown sugar, spooning and leveling the flour so you don’t get too much, and baking only until the batter is set but still soft. To develop a wonderfully rich taste, use chips that are high-quality chocolate and well-flavored vanilla. If you aren’t familiar with vanilla paste, a thicker form of vanilla extract that contains seeds from the vanilla pod, it might be a good time to give it a try. It’s available from many online sources and in some of our grocery stores.
Chocolate chip bars
Make in an 8×8 inch shiny metal baking pan
Adjusted for elevations of 7,000 feet and above
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
- Slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons Heath Bits O’ Brickle, optional
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line your pan with non-stick or regular aluminum foil, extending it several inches on two opposing sides to use as handles when removing the baked cookie from the pan. Generously grease any exposed parts of the pan and the regular foil with a baking spray that contains flour and set the pan aside.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl, whisk to blend and set aside. Cut up the butter, place the pieces in a microwave-safe mixing bowl, and heat at a low temperature in a microwave oven until the butter melts. Remove the bowl from the oven, add the brown sugar, egg and vanilla, and whisk or stir until mixed and smooth, then gently stir in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips and, if using them, the Bits O’ Brickle, stirring until they’re evenly distributed in the batter.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth and level it. Bake until the top has risen and is set but still quite soft, (it should feel spongy when you gently press down on it), and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-23 minutes. Don’t overbake. Remove the pan from the oven and, if the sides of cookie are higher than the center, gently press them down with the back of a spoon. Cool completely in the pan. Use the foil handles to remove the uncut slab from the pan. Prepare and apply the glaze if you’re using it, otherwise cut the cookie into bars. Store, covered, in the fridge, for up to 4 days. Serve at warm or at room temperature.
4. To glaze, finely chop the chocolate, and place it, with the oil, in a small microwave-safe bowl. Warm in a microwave oven at a low temperature until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Remove from the oven and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Cool slightly, then drizzle over the uncut slab of cookies. Set aside until the chocolate sets and then cut into bars.
The cookie recipe is a variation of one published by Taste of Home.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.