Sunday, December 30, 2007

Loaded Sugar Cookie Bars

I adore desserts that begin with packaged cake mix or cookie dough. I love baked goods, but am not always thrilled about what it takes to produce them from scratch. It’s just all too involved. The separate mixing of the wet and dry ingredients, the adding of the eggs one at a time and the addition of the flour in batches, the gentle and time-consuming folding . . . it’s such a bother. I love a good short-cut dessert, and fortunately so does Rachael Ray.

Today I made her Macadamia Coconut Cookie Bars, but I used cashews instead and semisweet chocolate chips in place of the suggested white chocolate chips. I’m sure Rachael’s version would be delicious, but I was using up what I had on hand.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Coconut, Cashews, and Chocolate Chips
adapted from Rachael Ray’s Macadamia Coconut Cookie Bars

1 package sugar cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 egg, room temperature
1 stick of butter, room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon (butter should be very soft but not
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup roughly chopped cashews
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. With 1 tablespoon butter, grease 9x13 inch baking dish.

Toast cashews in a pan over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add egg and butter to sugar cookie mix and combine. The best way to do this is with your hands—the heat from them will help blend the butter into the dry mix. Add coconut, chocolate chips, and cashews.*

Again with your hands, transfer dough to prepared baking dish and gently pat down into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Bars will still be gooey in the center when removed from the oven, but they will set up as they cool.

Cool for 1 hour in the pan on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

*I added the cashews to the dough while they were still somewhat warm, and this caused the chocolate chips to begin to melt which, in turn, caused the dough to take on a slightly darker color. If you don’t want your chips to melt this soon, let cashews cool completely before adding them.

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