I have a confession. I don’t enjoy making cookies. I enjoy the gifting part of making cookies but not the process. That is probably a little bit surprising to all the people who have received cookie gifts from me over the years.
Let me clarify. I don’t have the patience it takes to make cookies in a normal home oven. In a commercial kitchen, I had at least six oven racks I could fill with full-size sheet pans. Mix up a big batch of cookies, bake them all at once, and boom! You have several dozen cookies to fill the cookie jars for customers, and you’re done!
At home, I have two oven racks. I can fit half sheet pans in there, so I am forced to spend far too long babysitting the baking process, and I’m not known for my patience.
I COMPLETELY understand the joy of cookies. I have had a few big galoots in my life who enact what I call the “cookie walk” when potential cookie consumption is imminent. I love watching these guys go through the motions of the socially acceptable hello hug, but I know there is a subtle hyperaware visual scan going on over my shoulder for potential landing sites for cookie treats.
I have to love you a lot to spend my time baking a bunch of cookies.
This recipe is my lazy solution. Whether you have a large group of people to feed or just one treasured person you need to spoil, this cookie bar says I love you. This recipe gets you out of the boredom of baby-sitting those multiple scoop, bake, and cool repeats. You won’t need cooling racks spread out all over your kitchen or careful cookie stacking and storing. Instead you end up with awesome chocolate chip cookies bars with a peanut butter middle. (My apologies to the peanut allergy folks.)
I know for a fact that these are a sure winner because I sold a few thousand at the café. Cut these in large squares, and you get a half now/half later dessert. Cut them in small squares to serve at a big gathering. People are wowed by them and never feel guilty for eating more than one. They are smaller than a regular cookie, right?
The best part? This recipe makes 2- 9 x 13 pans. For half the usual time commitment and half the kitchen disruption, you manage to feed a crowd and still have some for yourself.
- Oven 350 Degrees
- Butter - 4 sticks (1 pound) softened
- Sugar - 1 cup granulated white
- Brown sugar - 2 cups, firmly packed
- Eggs - 2 large
- Pure vanilla extract - 3 Tbsp.
- All purpose flour - 4 ½ cups
- Salt - 2 tsp.
- Baking soda - 2 tsp.
- Chocolate chips - semi-sweet, 4 cups
- Peanut butter - smooth or chunky, 2 cups
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, or with your electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars. Mix well, increasing the speed of the mixer to high until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the mixture with a rubber spatula to make sure it is well combined.
- Crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl and then add to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low until both eggs are combined into the mix and then beat on high for about 30 seconds.
- Turn off the mixer and add the vanilla, again starting the mixer on low and increasing as the liquid is folded into the rest of the wet ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir well to combine.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture 1 cup at a time allowing the mixer to fold all the dry into the wet before adding more. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the inside and bottom of the bowl to make sure the dry ingredients are completely combined into the wet.
- Mix one last time with the mixer on medium and then return the mixer to a low speed.
- Add half the chocolate chips slowly to give the mixer a chance to work them into the cookie dough.
- Add the remaining chocolate chips and be prepared to mix the final few chips by hand with a strong wooden spoon. This is a lot of cookie dough for a mixer to handle!
- Divide the cookie dough in half and wrap with cling film or place in a gallon zip lock bag. Chill the dough for at least one hour or overnight.
- Remove both bags of cookie dough and divide each half in half again so you have 4 portions of cookie dough the same size.
- Fill a small bowl with water so you can dip your rubber spatula or fingers to help with spreading the layers. Also keep a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels handy to wipe your fingers.
- Use Spray release on two 9 x 13 pans and then line with parchment to make lifting the cooled bars from the pan for cutting much easier.
- Using your fingers, spread out one portion of the cookie dough into an even bottom layer. Repeat for the second pan.
- Spread one cup of peanut butter over the bottom layer in each pan. You may need to dip your rubber spatula in water to help spread the peanut butter and using your fingers is encouraged.
- Using one of the two remaining pieces of cookies dough, divide into four pieces and shape the chilled cookie dough with your fingers into a flat rectangle that will cover about ¼ of the pan.
Repeat with the other three pieces so the four rectangles cover the peanut butter layer. Pinch the seams together with wet fingers and don’t worry if some of the filling is showing. The cookie dough will rise and cover this while baking.
- Repeat this step for the second pan.
- Bake on separate racks in the middle of the oven, switching and turning the pans halfway through the baking time to cook them evenly.
- Bake for 35 minutes and check for doneness. The edges of the cookie bar will be pulling away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the middle will come out clean of cookie dough but will have a smear of peanut butter on the tip! You may need to leave in the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes for them to be fully baked.
- Allow to cool in the pan for an hour and then cover and chill in the fridge for a minimum of two hours or overnight.
- Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper to help lift the bars from the pan. Cut into large or small squares for your adoring fans.