Apron Free Cooking ~ Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
By Noel Lizotte
The holiday baking season has begun. It probably started a little before Thanksgiving, since we had all those pies and rolls for dinner. But the baking that has started at my house is the Christmas cookie plate sort of baking.
While I admit to having a bit of a sweet tooth, for most of the year, sweet treats are slim pickings in my house. Mostly it’s a way of avoiding the inevitable, that I would eat too many goodies.
But during the holidays, I give in to the temptation and start baking, to my family’s delight. I’ve started this season with some cookies already, and will progress through a list of cookies, brownies, candies and breads.
I like to put together a plate of goodies to share with folks during the holiday season. There are plenty of people who we interact with on a regular basis, that are not on the gift exchanging level. We’ve trimmed our gift giving considerably in recent years. In fact, we exchange gifts with the immediate family (myself, husband, son, daughter and daughter-in-law). There were some years when we were buying gifts for nearly everybody we knew. That was overwhelming. So we stopped doing that.
Instead, we’ll give a plate of homemade goodies to folks we’d like to share with. The plate will have some traditional Christmas sugar cookies, buckeye candy, chocolate covered pretzels, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and bite sized pieces of banana and pumpkin breads.
The cookie plate seems to always bring a smile to folk’s faces. They truly appreciate the thought as well as the sweets!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar firmly packed
3/4 stick Butter
2 tablespoons Milk
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1 large Egg
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (6 ounces)
1 cup Pecans coarsely chopped, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place cooling rack on countertop. Place brown sugar, shortening, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Add egg; beat well. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to shortening mixture; beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans, if desired. Press dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and firm in the center. Do not overbake. Cool completely on cooling rack. Cut into 2×1 1/2 inch bars.
Make It a Meal: Serve with your preference of milk, tea of coffee for an afternoon snack. Include a couple bars in your lunch bag.
Approximate Nutritional Information: Servings Per Recipe: 36, Amount per Serving: Calories: 109, Total Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Sodium: 146mg, Total Carbs: 15g, Protein: 1g.
Pay close attention to the amount of your ingredients. The last time I made this recipe, I got distracted and switched the amounts of sugar and flour. Those cookies never did set up but stayed a gooey gooey mess! Of course, my daughter and husband had a field day with that mishap. I noticed though, that didn’t stop them from eating the entire batch!
Noel Lizotte is breaking free of corporate stress with convenience cooking! This recipe is similar to ones printed in her cookbook Apron Free Cooking which is available on the website www.apronfreecooking.com. She also writes a monthly column at www.culinarychat.net.