Butterscotch Cookie Bars
A crowd-pleasing, simple to make dessert that is perfect this fall if you’re short on time but want to impress big with something flavorful. Decadently soft and fluffy, these are the cookie bars that you’ll want to bake again and again.
Butterscotch is a favorite of mine from childhood. There was a market I used to go to as a kid and they always had an assortment of swirled candy sticks and at checkout I would always reach for a butterscotch stick. There are of course, Werther’s and Reed’s butterscotch and if your grandma didn’t have a bowl of those lying around, your friend’s grandma did. We also cannot forget those hard butterscotch candies wrapped in yellow cellophane! Those always crept into my Trick-or-Treat pumpkin somehow and there they remained until Christmas where they found themselves in the trash. RIP.
Anyway, I’m unsure why we associate butterscotch with mossy-green glass candy bowls or why they ended up on the floor of the family station wagon, crushed into their wrappers. Butterscotch is a wonderful, classic flavor and I can’t see how people love caramel or browned butter so much, yet butterscotch is all too easily forgotten. It’s such a warm flavor encompassing butter and brown sugar, cozy and perfect for colder weather treats. If you too are a butterscotch lover then I encourage you to bake these up! They are incredibly delicious, especially when served warm and are easy to make. These won’t chip a tooth either!
Some notes about this recipe:
· For this recipe I’ve used butterscotch baking chips and butterscotch pudding, but these bars can easily be converted to any flavor by substituting these two ingredients with your preferred flavor.
· Light or dark brown sugar may be used. Dark brown sugar will add more flavor but will create a denser bar whereas light brown sugar gives these more of a softer cookie texture.
· For even richer flavor, try browning the butter before creaming it with the sugars. Allow browned butter to completely cool down to room temperature before creaming. If you choose to brown the butter, use light brown sugar.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (any oil is fine)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 3.4-ounce package of instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups butterscotch baking chips, more for sprinkling
For the ganache:
1 cup butterscotch baking chips
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by spraying a light coat of cooking spray down. Cut a piece of parchment paper into an 8 x 15 sized piece. The edges should hand over on either side by a couple of inches as this will help you lift the bars out of the dish when cooled.
In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until mixture becomes light and fluffy. On medium speed, add in vegetable oil along with vanilla extract. Add eggs to mixture, one at a time until fully incorporated. Pour in package of butterscotch pudding and mix on low for about 1 minute.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, scraping down sides of bowl to ensure batter is well mixed. Stir in butterscotch chips.
Pour batter into prepared dish and spread evenly. I like to sprinkle the top of my bars with about another handful of butterscotch chips. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow bars to cool before drizzling with ganache.
To make the ganache:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, pour sweetened condensed milk into pan. Allow to heat throughout, stirring often (about 1 to 2 minutes). Turn heat to low and stir in butterscotch chips. Stir continuously until chips are fully melted and blended with condensed milk. Remove from heat and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Spoon over bars, drizzling ganache evenly over the top. Allow to dry for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. To serve: Remove bars from dish by pulling parchment paper and lifting. Place on a large cutting board or flat surface. Cut into squares (about 3”). Makes 12 to 15 bars.