After trying this recipe several times, I now have two tried-and-true variations. I have split the original post, which became quite long post, into several shorter posts (this is to save ink and paper when printing individual recipes). Posts include the following:
- Almost Shortbread Bars: These cookies are almost like shortbread, except it uses one egg. These are rich, buttery cookies that are not too sweet. Mini chocolate chips are the right size for the dainty squares.
- Chewy Bar Cookies: This recipe makes bar cookies that are taller than the shortbread bars. Their texture is like cake, but more dense. The Chai Spice bars are especially delicious.
- For future reference: A list of other suggested bar cookie variations that are untested, but they sound delicious
The bar cookie recipes yield 32 to 40 bars, depending on how you cut them. Cut the bars small: just one or two is enough. Makes about 32 bars or up to 40 bars (1.5-inches each side) – the glass pan I use is more like 8×12-inches, instead of 9×13-inches, but they come out fine.
- Black and White Bars combine dark chocolate batter with white chocolate chips. These would be elegant served with fresh strawberries. Like a tuxedo, they would fit in to high-toned gatherings.
- Butterscotch Pecan Bars: For add-ins, use 1 cup butterscotch chips and 3/4 cup chopped pecans. Sweeter than usual, due to the chips.
- Chai Spice Bars are especially delicious with the sugar glaze
- Chocolate Almond Button Cookies are made in a mini-muffin tin
- Vanilla Coconut Bar Cookies combine coconut and white chocolate chips for a casual cookie with a tropical flair
Postscript: Skip making bar cookies with a boxed cake mix – I tried several times and was bitterly disappointed in the results. Any time saved by using cake mix instead of flour and sugar was not worth it. The cookies were tasty when they first came from the oven. However, after sitting out at a party for just 3 hours, the cookies were rock hard. I really liked the convenience of the bar cookie, however. Researching recipes suggested the cake mix formula was too low in fat (the recipe called for an 18.25 oz cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, and 2 teaspoon vanilla). They probably should have had at least 1/2 cup butter or oil to improve the texture.