Author Notes: If my childhood had an official cookie, it would have to be my grandmother’s Congo Bars. I’m not sure if my grandmother was the mastermind behind this recipe, but she definitely had a black belt in baking these gooey gifts to the world. They are like a fudgy brownie in texture, but the brown sugar makes them taste caramel-y. Even my half-siblings, who only had them a few times when visiting on weekends, still rave about these bars. They are best eaten out of a square-bottomed glass cookie jar, just like at Grandma Reilly’s. —Abbie C
Food52 Review: What a delicious bar cookie! These are a potentially addictive and indulgent afternoon snack; I could also picture the congo bars served, if you cut them larger, as a plated dessert in the comfort food genre, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce. The congo bars have a fudgy, gooey texture with a bit of crunch, provided you include the optional walnuts. The brown sugar gives them a butterscotch-y flavor that lingers after every bite. I sprinkled mine with a little sea salt on top, but they are great as is, too! —navahfrost
Makes: about 2 dozen bars
cup vegetable shortening
cups brown sugar
cups sifted all-purpose flour
teaspoons baking powder
cup walnuts (optional)
package semi-sweet chocolate chips
teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Melt the shortening in a large saucepan. Mix in the brown sugar, then cool. Make sure you let this mixture cool completely or your chocolate chips will melt when you add them to the batter.
- Mix in the eggs, then mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. The batter will be stiff.
- Mix in the chocolate chips, nuts, and vanilla extract. I’ve added the vanilla when I’ve added the eggs before, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference — but Grandma said to add it here.
- Spread batter onto a greased jellyroll pan and bake for 18 minutes.
- Allow to cool, then cut into square shaped bars.
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Photo by Mark Weinberg
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