7 Decadent Dessert Bars to Bake This Weekend

When you can’t decide between baking a brownie or a cookie, you can bake the best of both worlds by preheating your oven for dessert bars. Dessert bars are easy to make, easy to transport, and easy to eat. Like brownies, you can cut them right from your pan, and with bars, you’re not restricted to inflexible brownie or blondie formulas. The recipe variations for dessert bars are endless, and today we’re highlighting seven of them. Put down your cookie scooper and pick up a baking pan. You’re about to bake up some decadent and doughy dessert squares.

1. Hello Dolly Bars

hello dolly bars

Hello dolly bars | iStock.com

Our first recipe comes from Spicy Southern Kitchen and it yields a classic. Hello dolly bars have been around forever, and for good reason. Seven layers of decadence involving nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, condensed milk, and graham cracker crumbs are what these dessert bars are all about, and it’s not hard to imagine why they are also known as “magic bars.” Though the idea of seven-layer bars may seem intimidating, this dessert is actually easy to make and is sure to impress. The best part about dessert bars? You determine the portion sizes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1½ cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine cracker crubs, pecans, coconut, all three chips, and butter and mix to combine. Transfer to prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over top. Transfer to oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden all over. Let cool, then cut into bars. Store covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.

2. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

melted caramel

Melted caramel | iStock.com

Brown Eyed Baker also has a winning dessert bar recipe, and it yields salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars — proof that cookies taste just as good in bar form. Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, but scooping out the dough and making sure the raw balls don’t burn or sink can be a pain. Skip the inconvenience and bake these bars instead. These bars can be perfected in a 9-inch square pan, also alleviating any potential messes.

Ingredients:

  • 2⅛ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Fleur de sel for sprinkling over caramel and bars

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9–by-9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Using a stand mixer or a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat melted butter and sugars to combine. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix just to combin. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat cream and caramels until melted, stirring every 20 seconds until smooth.

Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing into an even layer, then pour warm caramel evenly over the top, leaving a bit of a border around the edges. Sprinkle sea salt all over caramel, then dollop remaining cooking dough over the top. Use a spatula to smooth into as even a layer as possible, covering caramel. Sprinkle with additional salt.

Bake the cookie bars for 30 minutes, or until golden and edges begin to pull away from the pan. Let cool on a wire rack. Transfer to fridge to let caramel solidify, then cut into squares. Serve. Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container.

3. Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Bars

peanut butter cup cookie dessert bars

Peanut butter cup cookie bars | iStock.com

We all know that peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in dessert heaven, but when in cookie bar form, the combo tastes even better. Take this recipe from My Baking Addiction and see for yourself. Combining baking staples, mini peanut butter cups, chocolate chips, and peanut butter, these dessert bars will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings without breaking your bank. The chocolate-peanut butter glaze is reason enough to whip out this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini peanut butter cups
  • ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper and grease with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine in a medium bowl.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat melted butter and brown sugar until combined. Add egg and vanilla, then beat until completely smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix just to combin. Add peanut butter cups and mix by hand to distribute.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20 to 25 minutes.

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter on 50% power, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until completely smooth. SPour over bars and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until set. Remove from pan using foil or parchment to assist you. Cut into bars and serve.

4. Raspberry Crumble Bars

raspberry crumble bars

Raspberry crumble bars | iStock.com

If you have a fruit craving rather than a chocolate one, try these raspberry crumble bars found on Food Network. They’re just as satisfying as the aforementioned recipes on our list, and they can be made in an 8-inch square baking pan. Now that summer is around the corner, it’s time to reacquaint your sweet tooth with fresh fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup
  • 1 quart raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1¾ cups sugar

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Add the flour, both sugars, oats, and salt to a bowl in your stand mixer. Add in the butter and egg and beat at low speed. Stop the machine and scrape the bowl down a couple of times. Keep processing until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Keep 2 cups crumb mixture aside.

Press the remaining crumb mixture on the bottom the prepared pan. Spread the Raspberry Preserves over top, leaving ½-inch border. Crumble the rest of the oat mixture over the preserves.

Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

For the raspberry preserves: Put your raspberries and ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s at a simmer, partially cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Pass the berry mixture through a food mill and measure the liquid that remains. You need 3½ cups. Add more water if there isn’t enough.

Put the berry liquid into a new saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer again. Once it simmers, start adding your sugar in ½ cup increments. Give it a stir to incorporate and bring it back to a simmer before adding of the next ½ cup sugar. Once the last ½ cup is added, bring the liquid to 216 to 218 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Stir constantly.

5. Snickerdoodle Bars

cinnamon and sugar

Cinnamon and sugar | iStock.com

Next up is a dessert recipe from Averie Cooks you really don’t want to miss. If you have a taste for snickerdoodle cookies, you need to try these bars. They’re the best of both worlds: easy to bake and easy to eat, and there’s also easily transportable. As long as you have a lot of cinnamon and sugar on your hands, you’re good to go. Prepare to sink your tooth into these moist, buttery dessert bars.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

For sprinkling

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and grease with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, heat butter until completely melted, about 1 minute. Add the egg, sugars, vanilla, and whisk well to combine. Add the flour, cream of tartar, optional salt and stir just until everything comes together. Transfer to prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over batter. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and cooked, about 24 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Cut into bars and serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

6. Red Velvet Cookie Bars

mixing ingredients

Mixing ingredients | iStock.com

If red velvet is your cake or cupcake flavor of choice, give these red velvet cookie bars from A Simple Pantry a try. Never has a dessert bar been so bright, beautiful, and decadent. Topped with cream cheese frosting, this dessert has all of your red velvet bases covered. Invite your sweet tooth to the party and don’t forget about your red food coloring.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring

Cream cheese frosting

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit . Line a 13-by-9 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking power, and baking soda to combine. In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at time, mixing to combine after each addition. Add vanill and food coloring and beat to incorporate. Add dry ingredients a little at a time and mix just until everything is moistened.

Transfer to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. let cool.

Meanwhile, beat butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in batches and beat to combine. Add the vanilla, then beat for once more until completely smooth. Frost the cookie bars, cut, and serve.

7. S’mores Bars

Graham cracker crumbs

Graham cracker crumbs | iStock.com

Last but certainly not least are these s’mores bars featured on Taste of Home. Summer is coming, and that means it’s almost officially s’mores season. Just in case you don’t have access to a firepit or open flame, try these s’mores bars and quench that seasonal craving. The combination of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows never gets old, and with these bars, you don’t even have to brave the great outdoors.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 milk chocolate candy bars
  • 1 cup marshmallow creme

Directions: In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Set aside ½ cup for topping.

Press remaining mixture into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Place candy bars over crust; spread with marshmallow creme. Crumble remaining graham cracker mixture over top.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

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