I call this The Lazy Baker edition. The last time I joined the holiday cookie exchange at work was years ago, and even then, I went for no-bake cookie balls because I wanted something easy. After taking a break for many years, I decided to take the plunge again and sign-up for this year’s cookie exchange. There were 12 of us in the group, so we each had to make 11 packages of cookies. We voted to make six pieces per package, so 66 in total. That seemed like a lot of cookies to me, so I thought long and hard before deciding on what to bake. (I also thought about just paying my friend to bake for me.) Luckily, the movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before just came out this year, and in it was the advice to make brownies instead of cupcakes because bars were easier to bake and cut out. Alas! I knew I had to bake cookie bars.
However, I took the basic-ness even further and searched the internet for recipes that used store-bought cookie mixes. I did not want to risk ruining my cookie bars because I got the wrong type of flour. (Is that a thing?) So I Googled and found a Betty Crocker recipe for Loaded Chocolate Chip Christmas Bars. Perfect!
- Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
- 1 egg per package mix
- 1 cup butter per package mix
- 1 cup peanut M&Ms per package mix
- 6 pieces Oreos per package mix
I basically just followed the Betty Crocker recipe for Loaded Chocolate Chip Christmas Bars. Based on the recipe, each cookie mix package was enough for 24 bars, so I bought four packages to make more than enough, just in case I messed up.
The baking pans I used were two different sizes because those were all I had, so each batch yielded different types of bars. One pan was wide and flat so it yielded more bars, but thinner compared to the other pan which yielded fewer yet thicker bars. I was glad I bought an extra package mix when I realized my different pans didn’t yield exactly 24 pieces. After the first batch from each pan, I learned that the thin-and-wide pan only needed to be in the oven for 18 minutes or the cookies get dry and hard, while the other pan needed at least five more minutes to make sure the thick bar gets thoroughly cooked.
Making the 66 pieces was pretty straightforward and quick. The only part that made it a bit time consuming was the cool down time after each bake. Since I only had two pans, I tried to alternate the baking pans, but the timing wasn’t perfect. I had to give them enough time to cool before I could take the bars out and reuse the pans. Otherwise, the bars were too soft and would crumble.
Despite the physical differences of the bars, they actually tasted better than I expected. It will definitely be a go-to recipe for me if ever I need to prepare cookies again.