I don’t know why raw cookie dough gets such a bad rap. I mean, scientifically, I get it, but realistically I’ve been eating raw cookie dough (in large quantities) for about the last 30 years and nothing adverse has ever happened to me. But whatever.
I was eyeing up recipes for no-bake cookie dough bars on Pinterest quite some time ago. And then again today. In the spirit of my coworkers asking me on Friday “what are you baking this weekend (and bringing in to share with us),” I decided I would try this no-bake dessert. There are several variations of this recipe floating around on the internet. The one I saw on Pinterest was from the Recipe Critic. I also found a recipe similar to the Recipe Critic’s at the view from great island site and another one at Family Feast and a healthy vegan, gluten-free option at Chocolate Covered Katie.These were the top four recipes on Google.
I tried making vegan, gluten-free cookie dough once using a recipe somewhat similar to the Chocolate Covered Katie healthy option one. I really can’t remember what inspired me other than the promise that the recipe tastes exactly like raw chocolate chip cookie dough. Snort! You can see the recipe never made my blog which will tell you how I felt about it (if something isn’t blogged about it wasn’t good enough for sharing). I have this thing about healthy recipes that are trying to mimic unhealthy/classic recipes. Like making pizza dough out of cauliflower instead of flour. Yes, I have tried it. Yes, it even made my blog. But, no, in case you are wondering if you have never tried cauliflower pizza crust it tastes NOTHING like normal pizza crust. Have you ever had cauliflower?? It’s a very distinct taste. That’s what cauliflower pizza crust tastes like, and I won’t try to convince you of other. In fact, my cauliflower pizza crust blog did not try to persuade you that cauliflower pizza crust tastes as good or better than regular pizza crust. Anyway, back to the cookie dough. So basically I felt that the vegan, gluten-free cookie dough I made (and never blogged about) tasted nothing like real cookie dough. To be fair, it’s probably a decent substitute if you are vegan and/or gluten-free. But if you choose not to be vegan and/or you do not eat gluten-free, I would not suggest such a recipe.
So anyway, I discarded the healthy option (sorry, Katie!) because I was won over by the versions that contained sweetened condensed milk. I guess the sweetened condensed milk takes over for the egg in the cookie dough? Which confounds me because it seems like there’s way more milk in the recipe than there would be eggs and the texture and taste are totally different. But I guess when you’re not baking something it works? At any rate, I have had a mild obsession with sweetened condensed milk for over a year now. So I went with the Recipe Critic’s recipe as it contained peanut butter in the chocolate topping, and I had already decided to add peanut butter chips to my dough. Kismet!
So I happily set out to make these no-bake bars knowing they would be easy to make. Here’s what happens every time I clean my floors. I immediately get them dirty. So I cleaned my floors yesterday and this afternoon while I was making this recipe not only did the flour go flying out of my mixer and land all over my floors, cupboards and the stainless steel oven (that I happened to also polish yesterday right along with the floors I scrubbed) but also I walked away for a millisecond (crossed over to my dining room to grab some chocolate chips on a shelf) and in that millisecond the bowl to my stand mixer became dislodged and the spatula with all of its sticky dough and a thick strand of condensed milk went flying off the bowl and landed where else? You got it. On my once clean floor. Grr.
Once I got past the irritation of the messy floor I tasted the “dough” and became overwhelmed by the dichotomy of the taste versus the texture. It tastes just like normal cookie dough (after I added 5x the amount of salt to combat the sweetened condensed milk) but the texture is nothing like normal cookie dough. And I have to say … it’s not exactly a texture I like. So immediately I became annoyed and wanted to push past the three-hour chill time before I slapped the chocolate on top because I wanted to taste the finished product. I did not want to waste two whole sticks of butter and two whole cans of sweetened condensed milk on a bad dessert. That would make me really mad. I especially hate wasting butter. It’s so expensive and I’m nearly out!
Alas, it was late enough in the evening by the time I pressed the dough into my pan that I needed to wait until the following day to add my chocolate on top, let it chill again and then taste the finished product.
- 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 ½ c. packed light brown sugar
- ½ to 2 ½ tsp. salt (the recipe calls for ½; I used 2 ½ – go with your tastes here)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 c. all-purpose flour (I probably used 4 ½, at the least)
- 2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed mi
- 2 c. mini chocolate chips
- 2 c. peanut butter chips (or additional mini chocolate chips; I threw in a tiny amount of mini m&ms – those would be a good option too!)
- 2 c. milk chocolate chips (for the “frosting”)
- 1 c. peanut butter (for the “frosting”)
- Cream the butter and sugar and salt together until fluffy. I use my stand mixer, but you don’t have to. Just beat it really good so it’s light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Beat in the condensed milk and the flour, alternately, mixing after each addition.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
- Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray with cooking spray. Do this especially if you do not use the parchment paper.
- Dump the dough into the pan and pat down evenly with your hands or a spatula. You may want to flour your hands if the dough is sticky. Mine wasn’t. Smooth it out as evenly as possible. You can press down on the dough with your hands; cover with waxed paper to make a barrier between your hands and the dough.
- Cover and refrigerate until firm, (about 3 to 4 hours) or overnight if you like. The texture of these bars are similar to fudge.
- To make the chocolate topping, put the milk chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and microwave for one minute. Stir, and then, if needed, return to the microwave for short bursts of 15 seconds until the chocolate is totally smooth and melted. My frosting was ready to go after one minute.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the dough. Spread out evenly. Return to the refrigerator until the topping is firm. Cut into squares. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
I was surprised/relieved to find out that the finish product was GOOD. I had talked myself out of liking the bars during the no-bake process. I will tell you this though: a little bit of this bar goes a long way; they are rich. I ate too many during the plating/staging/picture-taking process and felt a bit sick afterward (not in a good way). I also have a tendency to think this is a dessert women will like more so than men. Why? I guess I don’t know that many men who go ga-ga over cookie dough. Do you? Cookie dough seems kinda girly to me. Not that men won’t enjoy these treats; I just can’t see them gobbling these up.
The standard recipe you’ll find on the internet is for a small square pan. I doubled the recipe and threw it in a 9×13-inch pan. I also doubled the recipe for the chocolate topping which, in my opinion, worked out well. The topping on my bars is relatively thick. Some of the other bars I’ve seen floating around the internet and Pinterest contain a rather thin layer of chocolate on top. These bars are so rich I feel like they need a thicker chocolate topping. But you decide, you be the judge, when you try these out.