17 Christmas Bar Cookie Recipes for Cookie Swaps, Open Houses, or Just Because
They're familiar to most of us; they're easy to make and even easier to share. Most of us have a childhood favorite bar cookie, whether it's a brownie, a blondie—or in my case, a congo bar. We make them on winter weekends, for slumber parties, and as our offering at school bake sales. We might even take them for granted, just a little, because bar cookies are practical and sturdy; they're not usually very stylish, nor are they romantic, and they rarely include decorations or frills. Bar cookies are square by nature, of course, because of the pans they're baked in. They can be cut into as many pieces as there are people to enjoy them. In fact, we'd say bar cookies are uniquely American; they are outgoing and direct, they're generous. They're delicious, too.
The category includes our favorites—blondies and brownies—as well as many types of caramel nut bars, shortbread, and hermit bars. Then there are the more delicate light lemon bars and cheesecake bars. All can be enjoyed year-round, but here we've gathered some of our best recipes to warm your home as you bake them and delight family and friends as you serve them over the winter holidays.
Some are gussied up a little bit, like these hermit bars with icing and crystallized ginger, or else they're fancy by nature, like our Chocolate-Caramel Bars. There are some bars we've included here especially for the Christmas celebrations, like a classic fruitcake version and the Gingerbread-Spiced Blondie shown here. And then there are our eggnog bars, which are sure to become a new classic. That eggnog bar cookie isn't the only one that's laced with brandy or liqueur, so serve these fancy chocolate hazelnut squares to adults only, and the same goes for these coffee-spiked brownies. But these crunchy bars, loaded with pretzels, will be a big hit with the kids—if you can stop the grown-ups from getting to them first!
Chocolate-Hazelnut Shortbread Squares
Cocoa dusted and rich, with a crumbly shortbread base, this is really a truffle on a cookie—with a dash of Frangelico. They're sensible, yet also decadent.
Consider these blondies a sweet template; use the honey of your choice to add to their flavor profile: robust, woodsy or delicately floral.
Freshly grated ginger, not to mention the classic gingerbread spices, make these moist and fudgy brownies just perfect for the winter holidays.
Macadamia-Maple Sticky Bars
Made with macadamia nuts, maple syrup, and cream, these are special occasion bars. A rich, creamy caramel is poured over the simple press-in crust and baked.
A medley of dried fruits are steeped in warm brandy until they soften, before being stirred into this straightforward brown sugar batter. Once cooked and cooled, they are cut into diamond shapes—so much fancier and more festive than the usual square bar cookie.
This is a very simple style of bar cookie, with a graham cracker crumb and melted butter base. Coconut and nuts are drizzled with caramel, which is the trickiest part of the recipe. Our recipe calls for macadamia nuts, but either walnuts or pecans would be a delicious substitute.
Big-Batch Triple-Chocolate Brownie Bars
A larger-than-usual pan of brownie is a good solution to any cookie needs for a party or cookie swap, this generous recipe produces 54 treats. Plus it's a triple threat for chocolate lovers with dark cocoa powder, melted milk chocolate, and pieces of white chocolate.
Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars
Looking for understated elegance in bar cookie form? Then try these treats with a glossy, chocolate caramel set on a shortbread crust. The finesse? A sprinkling of the best French sea salt, known as fleur du sel.
Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars
Soft and cinnamon-dusted, snickerdoodles are a favorite old-fashioned American cookie. Bake a similar dough in a square pan, top it with crunchy crumbs, and the result is a newfangled, totally delicious treat.
White Chocolate-Gingerbread Blondies
What a gift these Christmassy blondies make. They're all spiced up and laden with white chocolate chunks.
Cherry Almond Brownies
These sophisticated brownies aren't for the kids. They've got coffee in the batter and are studded with dried sour cherries and toasted almonds for a rich, grown-up treat.
Fresh lemon and lime makes these bars zesty and bright. They're also pretty wholesome: The press-in crust contains wheat germ for texture and flavor.
Hermit Bars with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Ginger
All dressed up for the holidays, that's these fancy hermit bars which are finished with brown-sugar icing and candied ginger. They're very ready for a party.
Elizabeth's Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
These bars are for those who like their snacks both salty and sweet. But, wait—isn't that everyone? These fun treats are sure to be the hit of the party.