29 February 2012

choc chip & espresso cookie bars

Cakes don't feature in a big way on my blog, not because I don't like cake - I do!  It's just simply down to the fact that I'm not a confident baker and tend to steer away from baking cakes (eating is another story of course). I don't think I have the 'lightness' of hand and instinct for it.  For some reason, cookies though, don't instill such a feeling of hesitance.

So when my bestfriend told me that her first born's birthday was coming up and that she was putting together a care-birthday package for him, I volunteered to bake some cookies to add to the loot.

Now I have multiple lists each as long as my arm, if not longer, of baking want-to's.  There's the favourites list from blogs I follow, stack of cookbooks with post-its scattered through the pages, a growing pile of magazines with more post-its, a ringbinder (yes, yes, I know) with recipes torn from newspapers/magazines and hand-scribbled recipes, and...

Admittedly, I'm a little freakish when it comes to anything I like or passionate about.  Aren't we all?  No?  Really?  Nah...come on, just admit it already! :-)

Okay, back to what I made for the care package.

I toyed with the idea of those peanut & cashew cookies that I had made for Chinese New Year - those were a big hit.  But the cookies don't travel well since they were quite crumbly.  Didn't think they would stay intact by the time they made their way from Wellington down to Otago University. Remembering a recipe that had been bookmarked not so long ago from a blog called Hungry Girl por Vida (I do have many recipes bookmarked from this blog), I took another quick look at decided that Cindy's Choc Chip Cookie Bars was the perfect choice.  It was between a cookie and a slice, and would travel well.

Cindy blogs from America, so I had to convert all the US measurements into metric.  That wasn't a biggie - it took only 10 mins to go online and make all the conversions.  I did make teensy tweaks to the recipe, based on what I had in the pantry and addition of espresso coffee to emphasis the chocolate.

I hope he liked it!

Choc Chip & Espresso Cookie Bars
Adapted slightly from Hungry Girl por Vida

113g butter - I used salted butter and omitted the salt from the original recipe
113g cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated raw sugar
3/4 cup soft brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp instant espresso granules
340g dark chocolate, chopped or semi-sweet chocolate chips
140g walnut, toasted and cooled
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare your baking pan - grease the pan, line the bottom with baking paper and then grease again.  Type of pan - you can use a 10” square cake pan or the type of rectangular pans you'd use for baking slices, lamingtons or brownies.
  3. Toast the walnuts in the oven until lightly browned, remove and set aside to cool.
  4. Melt your butter in a small pan over medium-low heat until the milk solids are brown and fragrant.  Be careful not to burn the butter.  Transfer the browned butter into a large mixing bowl to cool.
  5. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and espresso granules.
  6. In a separate bowl, toss the chocolate and nuts together.
  7. Add the cream cheese and sugar to the browned butter and cream until light and fluffy.
  8. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg in well.  Remember to stop and scrap down the sides every now and again.
  9. Add the vanilla and mix.
  10. Fold in the flour mixture and mix to just combined - there should be still some streaks of white flour through the batter.
  11. Fold in the nuts and chocolate lightly, taking care not to over mix.  By this time the remaining streaks of white flour will be fully incorporated into the batter.
  12. Spread the batter into your prepared pan - I used a lightly greased silicone spatula to flatten out the batter.  You could use clean lightly oiled fingers as Cindy's recipe suggested.
  13. Bake in the middle of the oven until the top the golden and the centre is just set.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan.  Once cooled, remove from the pan and slice.

This is also my own contribution to February's Sweet New Zealand.


  1. Chocolate chips and espresso - yum - that's right on the money for me. I'm not a confident baker either, but I love the idea of something that is a little bit cookie a little bit slice. This just got added to my bookmark list.

    Thanks for hosting Sweet NZ - you did a fantastic job - great round-up.

    Sue xo

    1. Thanks Sue - it was a pleasure to host Sweet NZ! Hope you get to bake this cookie bar. :-)

  2. I'm sure he loved it Shirleen, what a wonderful gift and they look so beautiful! I can't think of anything better than to receive cookies through the post.

    1. Yes, cookies arriving in the mail would put a smile on just about anyone huh? :-))

  3. I think those should certainly be well received.


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