Cookie Dough Caramel Bars | Recipe

a pile of cookie dough bars stacked on top of each other on a table

I know I promised my Nutella cinnamon roll recipe, and it’s coming, promise! But these are just as delicious (and much cheaper, given the lack of Nutella) to make! 
I have a confession to make…I’m not much of a brownie fan. I know, I know, how is that possible, for a self-proclaimed chocolate junkie who loves baking? But there it is, the bitter truth.
Having said that, there’s something oddly comforting about bar desserts – having a tray of something rich and sweet to pick at in the fridge when you’re in need of perking up.
That’s where these cookie dough caramel bars (otherwise known as Congo Bars) come in – think caramel-stuffed cookies meet brownie.
Think sinful.
Think delicious.

ingredients for cookie dough bars on a table; vanilla extract, butter, flour, light brown sugar, rolo bites, 3 eggs in a bowl, reduced sodium salt, and two bars of plain cooking chocolate

They really are far too easy to throw together; all you need are the ingredients pictured above – it’s pretty much a standard cookie recipe, except with a startling increase in sugar – just under a small bag’s worth.

mini rolos in a bag alongside plain cooking chocolate, on a tablechopped chocolate on a chopping board with a knife

When it comes to chocolate, I hate using ‘chips’ in my baking; personally, I think huge, vulgar chunks thrown right into the dough make for much more enjoyable bites, so I always just take a sharp knife and (carefully!) chop up a regular bar of cooking chocolate. I think  Rolos have the perfect caramel : chocolate ratio, but you’re more than welcome to swap out them for your favourites – Lindt and Revels are both
popular choices whenever my friends are involved.

Once your chocolate’s all chopped up, it’s just a case of cubing some butter into the hefty amount of sugar, creaming them both together, and pouring into your dry ingredients. The mixture won’t be completely smooth, but we don’t need it to be. Especially not once the chocolate’s added.
a perspex baking tray with a crossover of baking parchment on a table

This is by far the best tip I’ve ever received when it comes to baking anything in bar form – instead of just lining your brownie tray with greaseproof paper or hand-greasing it with leftover butter, cut two thin strips of greaseproof paper, and fold them over so they form a cross-shape, as shown in the picture above; this means that your cooked dough can then just be lifted out, using the overhanging strip, once it’s removed from the oven.

cookie dough spread out evenly in a baking tray lined with baking paperfinished congo bars on a cooling rack, ready to be cut

The dough will be slightly stickier than traditional cookie dough, but that’s what you want – the goal is to get bars with a similar in consistency to slightly-chewy brownies. Crispy on the outside, but richly dense, chocolately, caramel-filled cookie bars.

a pile of cookie dough bars piled up on a table

These pictures don’t do them justice; they’re a thousand more times delicious than they look. And they look pretty good, don’t they?

Cookie Dough Caramel Bars:

Makes 16 very generous bars.

Ingredients:

  • 340g flour (all-purpose)
  • 450g light brown sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (this one’s the best)
  • 400g cooking chocolate (I always use dark)
  • 126g Rolos (one of those ‘to share’ pouches)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°, gas mark 4, and line a standard 13 x 9 inch brownie tin with two strips of greaseproof paper, over-lapping so they form a ‘cross’ shape (as shown in the picture above).
  2. Cube your unsalted butter into a bowl containing your brown sugar, creaming it into the sugar using the back of a wooden spoon. It should take about 3 minutes for the mixture to become pale and fluffy.
  3. Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) into the sugar and butter mixture, combining until it forms a thick, bread-like dough, then add your eggs one at a time, and your vanilla.
  4. Chop your chocolate into chunks – generally, I use the point of my knife to pierce the bar of chocolate so that it shatters into bite-sized pieces. Just make sure you’re careful, always holding the knife away from you! Add the chocolate chunks and Rolos to the mixture until they’re evenly distributed.
  5. Empty the dough into your brownie pan, ensuring it’s evenly spread, then bake on the middle shelf for 35-45 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted into the center of the tray comes out clean.
Do let me know if you try these out – and any variations you try!
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