This fast and easy congo bars recipe is better than the average blondie bars because it uses brown butter and almond meal! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
I had totally planned on making my congo bars recipe for the Halloween potluck dinner. That is, until AJ informed me that the costume party we were going to was actually a sit down dinner for 8 people. Suddenly congo bars, no matter how great they are, didn’t quite seem sophisticated enough for the evening, even though I had already made a batch of them. So I whipped up something else for the dessert at the last minute and then went back to putting the final touches to our costume. It was a last minute Halloween for us, but then when wasn’t it? >
It was at the restaurant, where we discussed what we should be for Halloween that I got my inspiration. Turns out eating sushi is total inspiration for making costumes…that is, if your costume is going to be pieces of nigiri. Busting out the sewing machine and a few days later we had a costume that AJ declared a win! The dinner party was great and the dessert I brought was much appreciated (especially since the host said it was his absolute favorite dessert). Even better, we had congo bars to come home to afterwards. A win-win situation if you ask me.
Congo Bars Recipe
By Irvin Lin
Congo bars are chewy chocolate chip cookie bars, otherwise known as blondies, and are irresistible. I used a mix of semi-sweet, dark and extra dark chocolate but feel free to use whatever you have or like to eat. I also deepen the flavor by adding almond meal and browning the butter, something most recipes for congo bars don’t do. The almond meal adds a nutty moistness to the cookie bar recipe and the browned butter really gives the treat an extra fragrant dimension. I like to chop the chocolate I use because chocolate chips keep their shape and I like my chocolate gooey and melty when I bite into. But if you only have chocolate chips or are too lazy to chop the chocolate, by all means use the chips, they are perfectly acceptable. Every time I make these, people rave about them and reach for an extra one even if they say they are full. They’re that good.
Adapted from a recipe from David Lebovitz’ The Great Book of Chocolate cookbook, who in turn, adapted it from a Flo Baker recipe.
3/4 cup (170 g or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (440 g) dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (140 g) almond meal or flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (280g) chopped dark chocolate
3/4 cup (120 g) toffee bits
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and line a 15 x 10 inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking oil.
2. Place the butter in a large skillet (preferably one with a silver bottom, not nonstick) and turn the heat to high. Once the butter has melted completely, lower the heat to medium and stir constantly until the butter solids have started to brown. Turn the heat off and let the residual heat of the pan continue to brown the butter. Once the solids have turned a nutty brown and it smells fragrant, pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Be sure to scrape all the brown bits into the bowl as well.
3. Add the vanilla to the warm butter and then add the brown sugar and turn the mixer on to medium speed and mix until the butter has cooled down, a minute or two. Feel the side of the bowl to check the temperature. It can still be warm but not hot to the touch. Add the eggs, one at a time, waiting for each egg the incorporate before adding the next egg. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt to the bowl and mix on medium to incorporate. Add the chopped dark chocolate and toffee bits and mix on low speed until evenly distributed.
4. Scrape the dough onto the lined baking sheet and press it into the baking sheet until it’s evenly distributed. I used a silicon spatula but you can use your hands if you want (though the dough might be a bit sticky so you might want to wet your hands with water first). Once the dough is spread in an even layer, bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the sides of the cookie bars are starting to turn golden brown and darken slightly. Let cool in the pan completely before removing the cookbar from the pan by grabbing the sides of the aluminum foil and lifting straight up and moving it to a cutting board.
Makes 36 bars.
If you like these congo bars, check out some of these other cookie bar recipes from around the web:
Two Peas and their Pod’s Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
Shurgary Sweets’ Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
The Heritage Cook’s Brown Sugar Turtle Bars
Averie Cooks’ Snickerdoodle Cookie Granola Bars