I stayed in alone last night – so naturally, I decided to bake cookies. I’d been wanting to bake with cookie butter again for a while, and decided last night was the perfect night to do so. Now, originally I had planned to make cheesecake-stuffed cookie bars. But I just wasn’t in the mood for cheesecake. Instead, I decided to use the base dough from the cheesecake recipe I’d saved as a starting point, and play around with it a bit.
This is an easy trick to customize your baked goods: start with a base you trust, and then play with it. I have a few baking blogs I turn to for the base doughs – e.g. I love Picky Palate’s chocolate chip cookie dough and I adore this brownie base from The Food Charlatan. These bases are essentially your canvas, and then you can try out different additions, substitutions or “hacks.”
Last night’s experiment led me to make these Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls. I used a cookie butter blondie dough as the base and decided to split it into two layers, with a cookie butter filling between them. This turned out to be a great choice: the cookie butter filling baked into a smooth, moist layer that adds another kick of gingery, caramelized flavor. After putting the second round of dough on top of the cookie butter filling, I decided to add a Nutella swirl into the very top of the bars. And then I decided to sprinkle on some sea salt because really, why not?
These bars came out great! I loved the extra cookie butter layer in the middle and the Nutella on top adds a nice bit of chocolate right when you bite into the bar. Next time I think I’d add a layer of Nutella in the middle, on top of the cookie butter. The bars tasted great out of the oven, when the cookie butter layer was still hot and melty. I actually like them even more on Day 2, because the cookie butter layer has solidified a bit and has a stronger flavor. I tend to like my blondies more on Day 2 – often, flavors meld together over time and are more pronounced after they’ve been sitting around a bit.
I took these bars to brunch today as a sweet surprise for some friends. They were more than happy to be my taste testers!
Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls
Original recipe: The base dough for this recipe came from Confessions of a Baking Queen.
Yield: 20 bars
Suggested equipment: Mixer makes it easier
Total Time: ~50 minutes
Cook Time: ~25-27 minutes
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cookie butter (I used Trader Joe’s version, but use any brand you’d like)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips (you can swap in a different kind, of course)
- 10 tsp cookie butter for the filling (this is a rough estimate; you’ll want to eyeball it)
- 10 tsp Nutella (this is a rough estimate; you’ll want to eyeball it)
- Fine sea salt, to sprinkle (totally optional!)
Step by Step Directions
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Line an 9×9 pan with foil and grease the pan thoroughly. I only have an 8×8 so I used that, and just left out some of the dough so it wouldn’t be overfilled.
- Use your mixer to beat the butter for about 2 minutes.
- Add in the sugar and brown sugar, then beat for about 4 minutes until it looks fully combined.
- Add your cookie butter, and beat until it’s uniformly mixed.
- Add an egg, mix. Add the second egg, mix again.
- Add in the vanilla and mix it all together again.
- Add the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix on low, until all of the flour streaks are gone. You’ll need to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure you get it all mixed in.
- Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
- Press half the dough into the prepared pan.
- Put dollops of cookie butter on top of the cookie dough. Mine were about 2 tsp each. Then, use a knife to spread the dollops around the dough so you effectively have a cookie butter layer (see pictures below for help!)
- Layer on the second half of your cookie dough.
- Now, put dollops of Nutella on the top cookie layer. You’ll then use a knife to sort of swirl the Nutella into the cookie dough so it bakes into the top.
- Sprinkle some sea salt on top, if you’d like.
- Bake your bars for about 25-27 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took 27; start checking around 23 minutes to see what’s going on.
- Let the bars cool in their pan for 15 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
These will stay good for a few days if you put them in an airtight container. I’m guessing they’ll freeze well, too, so I threw some in the freezer!