Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Looking for a party-ready, easy treat? I’ve got you covered.

These Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars are a salty sweet treat that’s easy to whip up, and super easy to scarf down. The prep is really simple: just make some cookie dough, mix in your pretzels and chocolate, and throw it in a pan. No other prep, no chill time…you don’t even need to roll the dough into balls! These are a great pick for events outdoors since they’ll keep nicely in hot temperatures and they’re easy to transport.

I’ve made these a few times, and they’re always a crowd pleaser. The actual cookie dough is delicious on its own, and the pretzel/chocolate combo takes it up a notch. The original recipe also includes a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, but I’ve never tried that part and the bars certainly don’t need a drizzle to be delicious!

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Original recipe: Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 32 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (or semisweet, if you prefer)
  • 1½ cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Whisk your flour, baking soda and salt
  3. Using your mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until it’s light and fluffy (it will take about a minute)
  4. Beat in your eggs and vanilla
  5. Switch the mixer to low speed, then beat in the flour mixture until it’s just incorporated
  6. Stir in your chocolate chips and pretzel pieces by hand
  7. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray
  8. Pour your batter into the pan and use a spatula to make sure it’s evenly spread
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown
  10. Let the pan cool completely, then cut into squares and enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers

This easy recipe puts a pumpkin spice twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The recipe calls for a rather standard list of ingredients–with one very important, very notable exception. What’s that, you say? Why, Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter of course.

I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s pumpkin-flavored cookie butter because it combines so many wonderful things: nutmeg, pumpkin and little bits of cookie, to name a few. In this recipe, the cookie butter gets mixed right into your cookie dough. It adds a really satisfying complexity with nuanced flavors.This is a pretty cakey chocolate chip cookie, so the insides are soft and delightful. Like most things “pumpkin spice,” you’ll taste the cookie butter’s spice mix more than its pumpkin.

img_2396I’ve baked up many cookie butter recipes in the last couple years, from Cookie Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies to Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies. I’ll take cookie butter any way you want to serve it… but I definitely prefer using it in base doughs rather than using it as a filling. It’s an easy way to amp up the flavor in simple recipes!

For these Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers, I started with a recipe for Biscoff cookies, and simply swapped in the seasonal cookie butter flavor. I bet these would be delicious with standard cookie butter, too! You could try that same trick with other cookie butter recipes, like these Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers

Original recipe: Sally’s Baking Addiction, with a cookie butter flavor swap. I’ve written things a bit and added commentary, too. 

Yield: 20 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 45 minutes for the recipe, total of 4 hours including chill time 

Cook Time: 9 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (you can swap in dark if you need to)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Use your mixer to beat the butter for a minute on medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy
  2. Add your granulated sugar and brown sugar, then beat the mixture on medium-high until it’s fluffy and light in color
  3. Beat in the egg, extra egg yolk and vanilla on high speed
  4. Beat in the cookie butter until your entire mixture is completely combined
  5. Use a separate bowl to whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt until combined
  6. Turn your mixer to low speed, then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  7. Switch the mixer to high speed to beat in your chocolate chips
  8. Cover your dough tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days. Chilling gives the dough great flavor, so don’t skip this step. You can also freeze dough balls if you want to bake the cookies later on

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Let your dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so it’s easier to scoop into balls
  3. Start scooping doughs of ball onto your lined baking sheets
  4. Bake the cookies 9-10 minutes (mine took 9 minutes on the dot!). They’ll look pretty undone in the centers and really soft-but they’ll finish firming up as they cool, so don’t worry about it!
  5. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on their baking sheets, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely

These will keep for up to a week if you store them in a covered container, or in your fridge.

 

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve already given you several “stuffed” recipes. The Cookie Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. The Thin Mint Stuffed Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies ( a personal favorite). Oh and those crazy good Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.

I’m not over it yet.

Thing is: merging two delicious things together is just such a good plan. Whether it’s spreads and doughs, doughs and cookies, cookies and brownies – adding two flavors and textures together elevates baked goods so much more than simple mix-in additions could.

DSCN3038

Adding in the caramels

These cookies jumped off my baking list and into my kitchen for a birthday party. Two friends shared a party, and I did some digging to find overlap in their baked good preferences. Caramel won the round! I’d already made caramel-stuffed Snickerdoodles a bit before and loved how the melty caramel centers came out. I decided to work with caramels again, and thought this chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe might be a nice change of pace.

The cookies turned out great… though I will admit they made me really late to the party! Let’s just say that a side experiment to stuff the same dough with frosting did not turn out so well. No big loss, because the caramel-stuffed cookies were winners (and the birthday was a come-and-go thing, anyway!). My friends gobbled these up real fast. The chocolate base has a satisfying depth to it, with cocoa in the dough plus chocolate chips added in. I swapped in sea salt for regular salt and think it made the base dough even more tasty. Once your dough is ready, caramel candies get stuffed into the cookie dough balls. You stuff them in the middle, but they’ll sink to the cookie bottoms somewhat while baking. When you bite into a cookie you’ll get a nice caramel-y surprise. The caramel does harden over time, so you’ll need to serve these warm if you want a gooey effect.

This dough was a little challenging to work with, so I’d chill it next time. Otherwise, you might find it’s a little hard to form your caramel-stuffed balls.

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe:  Crazy Little Projects. I’ve edited the recipe a bit and added my own commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours 40 minutes, including 2 hours for chilling the dough 

Cook Time: ~9 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 package of caramel square candies – I used Kraft. You’ll probably have leftovers, which you should definitely use to make Caramel Doodles.
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Cream butter and sugar together
  2. Add the cocoa and eggs, and mix together until it’s combined
  3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix again
  4. Stir in your chocolate chips (I decreased the number of chocolate chips vs. the original recipe because it started to look like a lot of chocolate chips in the bowl. Feel free to dial it back up to 1.5 cups of chips if you so desire!)
  5. Chill the dough for at least a couple hours so it’s easier to work with and doesn’t spread as much while baking

Assemble and bake 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Unwrap 12 caramels to start, and cut each caramel in half. You will probably need more than this but I’d lowball upfront so you don’t waste unwrapped caramels!
  3. Line your cookie sheets
  4. Roll out balls of dough so they’re each roughly 1 to 1.5 inches large and place them on your cookie sheets at least an inch apart
  5. Take a caramel half and press it on top of each ball of dough. Push the caramel into the center of the ball and cover it up completely with dough (see pictures for reference). Unwrap more caramels as you need them to fill all the balls of dough!
  6. Sprinkle the tops of the cookie balls with a bit of sea salt
  7. Bake the cookies for ~9 minutes. They’re done when the edges firm up a bit, but the centers still look a little soft
  8. Let them cook for a few minutes before biting in

As I mentioned, the caramel will harden up the longer you let the cookies cool. Still, you gotta let them sit for a few minutes before chomping down – that caramel can get mighty hot!

Web-Hopping vol. 22

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day. Is that a real holiday, you ask? Probably not… but I am more than happy to justify eating a lot of chocolate chips today. And I’m guessing you’re cool with the excuse, too. So, today’s round-up is full of chocolate chips! Here are some of the most drool-worthy chocolate chip links I’ve added to my “baking list” this week. I also plan to bake up some chocolate chip goodness later today… but haven’t actually decided what to make just yet! We have a bake-off at work tomorrow and I keep oscillating between trying to pick something I think will be a “crowd pleaser” vs. making something a little riskier. Stay tuned for how that one nets out…

In the meantime, here are some deliciously chocolate chip-y links for your Sunday drools.

cheesecake-cookie-bars

From Hugs and Cookies Xoxo

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies: I’m not a huge cheesecake eater, but I do like cheesecake as a topping, filling, etc. I think these bars have just the right dose of cheesecake, stuffed into cookie bars.

S’mores Bars: I’m pretty obsessed with s’mores and have a really long list of bookmarked recipes that incorporate some combo of marshmallows/graham crackers/chocolate. I’m determined to make a ton of them this year.

mango-dark-chocolate-chunk-scones-1

From Two Peas and their Pod

Mango Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones: Can’t wait to try these soon – I love fruit and chocolate together!

Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread: Orange chocolate is one of my favorite fruit-chocolate combos, and this looks super easy. One of these days I just need to buy tons of oranges and knock off lots of the orange recipes on my list.

Peanut Butter Chip Shortbread: Yup, a second shortbread! I forget about shortbread and I should stop that – it’s so easy and satisfying.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies

The minute I saw Trader Joe’s was selling Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter, I knew I had to bake with it. Cookie Butter has been on a rapid ascent to U.S. popularity over these last couple years, particularly within the crowd that shops at Trader Joe’s. It’s actually not a Trader Joe’s invention: abroad it’s known as “speculoos” and it’s been popular for quite some time. It’s also been sold as Biscoff spread here in the States. But Trader Joe’s definitely gets credit for making cookie butter accessible to more Americans- and for that, I salute them.

Once I had a jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter in my 20151031_191932hands, I had an important decision to make. Should I put it into a cookie dough, adding that flavor into the cookie base itself? Or should I stuff it into chocolate chip cookies, like I did with regular cookie butter earlier this year? The answer was clear: I wanted to see what flavor the cookie butter would impart to dough itself. So I turned to my trusted Cookie Butter Blondie recipe from Confessions of a Baking Queen. I’ve made this recipe with regular cookie butter, to great results. I had my winner.

IMG_2754.jpgI followed Elizabeth’s original recipe, only swapping in the new variety of cookie butter. It turns out that putting Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter in her recipe is a really, really delicious choice. The flavored spread added a nice touch of pumpkin, along with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Yes, that’s right- unlike many “pumpkin spice” products, this spread does have pumpkin, along with all the spices usually included in “pumpkin spice.” So you get hints of allspice and cloves, pumpkin, plus the gingery taste of the typical cookie butter ingredients. Add that to a blondie base with chocolate chips- and I think you’ll understand why my friends were excited to see these appear at a Halloween party. Another important note about these blondies: they were the first thing I baked in my new apartment’s oven. Monumental, right?!

I plan to make these again very soon, probably to share with coworkers. Trader Joe’s actually sold out of the spread at the store closest to me, and the worker told me they probably won’t restock. So, dear readers, I encourage you to go out right now and seize the day- and seize some Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter, too.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies

Source: Confessions of a Baking Queen, with just a flavor swap 

Yield: One 9×9 pan of blondies (roughly 20 blondies, depending on how you cut) 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes 

Cook Time: ~25 minutes 

I broke the original recipe into a few more detailed steps and wrote my own commentary below. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, at room temp.
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter (if you can’t find any, I implore you to still make this with regular cookie butter!)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips/ chocolate chunks
  • Sea salt for garnish

Directions

Get prepped to bake 

  1. Melt your butter
  2. Line a 9×9 inch pan with foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 350F

Make your dough 

  1. Once the butter is cooled, combine it in the mixer with sugar, brown sugar and vanilla
  2. Then, add in the egg and mix until incorporated
  3. Mix in the cookie butter, and set the bowl aside
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt
  5. Add the dry ingredients (flour etc.) into the wet ingredients (butter etc.) and mix
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips (I always do this part by hand so I don’t over-mix the dough) 
  7. Spread the dough into your prepared pan, trying to make it even on top
  8. Sprinkle sea salt lightly over the top of your dough. Just a sprinkle does the trick, you don’t want the entire top covered in salt!

Bake your blondies 

  1. Bake for ~22-27 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took a little longer so I ended up leaving it in around 25 minutes
  2. Let cool for 30 minutes in the actual pan, then use the foil to remove the blondies from your pan

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with “Cookie Dough” Frosting

When friends announce they’re having a party, my scheming wheels start to turn. Recipe-scheming, that is. I love any excuse to try new recipes, and parties are the perfect venue to share the baking bounty. So when my friend Amanda decided to have a birthday fiesta, I jumped into Baker-Planner mode:

1. Intelligence-gathering: I furtively determined her favorite kinds of desserts and decided to go with a cookie-dough theme.

2. Recipe-Hunting: Nothing on my “to-bake” list qualified for my vision, so I set to Googling. I found a few great contenders and decided on a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I use Sally’s blog a lot, and find her recipes dependably awesome. This particular recipe was for “cookie cups”- a.k.a. cookies baked in muffin tins to create a cupcake-like shape. The frosting on top emulates cookie dough, but it’s eggless and therefore safer to eat than cookie dough itself. It seemed like the perfect recipe for Amanda’s tastes.

3. Execute: I made the “cookie cups” the morning of the party and then slathered them in frosting. The treats disappeared very quickly at the party, so I think they were a hit!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with “Cookie Dough” Frosting 

Only 2 left... and then these disappeared, too

Only 2 left… and then these disappeared, too

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Yield: ~24 cookie cups

Suggested equipment: stand mixer or hand-mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: ~15 minutes 

Italics below are my personal comments on the original recipe. I broke the directions into a few more steps, too.

Ingredients

Cookie Cup Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (set the butter out a bit before you’re going to start baking)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature preferred (set the egg out a bit before you’re going to start baking)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (aka cornflour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cup (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon (215g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (95ml) milk 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (270g) mini chocolate chips

Step by Step Directions

Make your batter

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color
  2. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The dough will be thick!
  5. Stir in chocolate chips (I did this by hand vs. with the mixer paddle) 

Bake your cookie cups 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Line your muffin pan with liners
  3. Press 1.5 tablespoons of dough into each liner
  4. Bake ~12-13 minutes, removing the pan from the oven when the edges begin to slightly brown, and the centers still appear soft. Do not overbake!
  5. Allow cups to cool while you make your frosting

Make your frosting and assemble 

  1. Using your mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar at medium speed
  2. Add vanilla and beat well
  3. Stir in flour and salt until the frosting gets doughy
  4. Beat in the milk until the frosting gets fluffy
  5. At this point I recommend a taste check. I ended up adding some more vanilla and salt to taste because the frosting was a little sweet for my preferences. Do a test and see whether you need adjustments for your own taste, then add in extra vanilla and/or salt as needed to get to the taste you want. Add just a little bit extra at a time! 
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips
  7. Frost cooled cookie cups
  8. Un-frosted cookie cups stay fresh covered at room temperature for 5 days. Frosted cookie cups must be stored in the refrigerator

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies with Browned Butter Dough

Over the past couple years, my salty sweet dessert repertoire has expanded far beyond the peanut butter cups of my youth. Salt is popping up in lots of my favorite desserts, from salted chocolate ice cream to salted caramel brownies. I’ve written about the salty-sweet trend from a more analytical angle over at my other blog. But for right here, right now: I just want to talk about cookies.

Great texture and great flavors made these a star recipe Please refer to the photo on the left. What you see is a delicious cookie, studded with pretzels, chocolate chips and caramel bits. It’s a harmony of flavors, and a wonderful mix of textures, all mixed in to a great base dough.

These cookies were born from a promise. I had promised my boyfriend I’d bake for him last weekend and since I take such promises very seriously, I gave him 5 options to choose from when Baking Day rolled around. My suggestions ranged from S’More Cupcakes to Lemon Bars to a few types of cookies. He took a look and made a suggestion of his own: Why not create a hybrid cookie? Why settle for one type of cookie when you could combine two great concepts into one?

And so these cookies were born. We used the base from these Salty Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies from “Cookies and Cups,” but added in a heaping of caramel bits for another layer of flavor. These turned out to be delicious decisions. The base dough has a delectable brown butter base, and the pretzels sort of float to the bottom to provide a satisfying crunch. The chocolate chips and caramel bits work well together, too, and it’s nice to get some variation as you bite through your cookie.

20150718_195613The other good news? This recipe is super easy. The hardest part is browning the butter, and once you try that a couple times you’ll get the hang of it. You definitely should try it- browned butter is a great addition to a lot of recipes (and also pretty “in” these days). This recipe is quick because the dough doesn’t have to chill before baking. Cookies are always one of the fastest things to bake overall, so you can get these from ingredient to finished product in under an hour. The cookies held up well over a couple days, too. So all in all: a total winner.

I gave my boyfriend a good chunk of the batch, left a few for my roommate, and brought the rest to a birthday party that night. The party was at a bar, so I probably looked a bit odd carrying cookies around – but my friends are very used to this behavior by now, and applaud it wholeheartedly.

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies with Browned Butter Dough 

Source:  Based on this recipe from Cookies and Cups, with a caramel twist

Yield:  ~28 cookies

Suggested equipment: stand mixer

Total Time: ~40 minutes 

Cook Time: ~8-12 minutes, depending on your oven 

Italics below are my own comments on the original recipes. I broke the directions into a few more steps, too

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted and browned (instructions for browning below)
  • 1¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk (meaning, 1 more yolk on top of the other 2 eggs) 
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1½ cups crushed pretzels (roughly – you can adjust for your preferences, and I advise low-balling it a bit)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, which is my standard. you could sub in dark or milk if you’d like)
  • 1 cup caramel bits (I used Kraft Caramel Bits, per a different blogger’s suggestion. I recommend these vs. regular wrapped caramels because they baked in so nicely)

Step by Step Directions

Melt the butter 

  1. In a medium saucepan melt 1 cup butter over medium-low heat
  2. When butter is melted continue to cook, swirling butter constantly until it becomes a golden brown color (the butter will smell sort of nutty when it’s ready. Keep a close eye on your browning butter – it’s easy to burn it if you’re not paying attention to its progress from yellow and melted, to brown and nutty)
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes

While the butter is cooling

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside

Make your dough 

  1. In bowl of stand mixer mix butter and sugar together until combined (so you shouldn’t see separate chunks of butter and sugar anymore) 
  2. Add in eggs, the additional yolk and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add in baking soda, salt and flour. Mix on low until incorporated, then mix in crushed pretzels. (I mixed in the pretzels with my machine so they’d break into smaller pieces. I didn’t end up using the full 1.5 cups of pretzels because sometimes I get overwhelmed by too many pretzel pieces in cookies – it can overpower the actual dough)
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and caramel bits (I did this step by with a mixing spoon instead of the mixer – you don’t want to overmix the dough)
  5. Using a large cookie scoop (or a tablespoon!) drop dough on baking sheet about 2 inches apart
  6. Bake until just golden at the edges, about 8-10 minutes. Centers might not seem done yet but remove the cookies (heed this warning – cookies always set more once you’ve removed them from the oven) 
  7. Allow them to cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling

And then there’s the unofficial final step, of course: take the cookies to a bar and please your friends – and make new ones.