Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Streusel Bars
Cookie Butter. Brown sugar. Streusel topping.
Three things I love, all rolled into one.
These bars are based on my one-bowl blondie recipe that I’ve relayed and parlayed. It uses melted butter, which means no mixer. They come together in five minutes by hand in one bowl, so you have precisely one item to wash.
Make the bars by melting one stick of butter in a microwave-safe bowl, then add an egg, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and stir to combine. I used light brown sugar since it’s less robust than dark brown, and I didn’t want to overwhelm that glorious cookie butter flavor. I made sure to use heavy hand when adding the cinnamon and vanilla as I always do; they’re two of my favorites.
Then, stir in a heaping one-third cup of Trader Joe’s Smooth Cookie Butter or Creamy Biscoff Spread. Biscoff and Cookie Butter are virtually interchangeable, especially in baking, and Biscoff is available in many grocery stores and big box retailers like Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart. Or you can order Biscoff Spread from Amazon or from Lotus Bakery. No excuses please that you can’t get it.
Or just make your own Homemade Cookie Butter. It’s not exactly-exactly the same as the real thing, but very close. And in these bars, it would be exactly perfect. The Huffington Post wrote an article about this recipe, which was pretty cool.
If you’ve never had Cookie Butter or Biscoff , the easiest way to describe it is to imagine gingerbread cookies, cinnamon, and spices, pulverized into a thick, dense, rich spread. It’s thick like conventional peanut butter, not thin or runny like almond or sunflower seed butter. The flavor is unlike any other spread; so unique and wonderful.
Eyeballing it right out of the jar and into the mixing bowl is fine. I hate to waste precious cookie butter that becomes stuck to the sides of a measuring cup, both wasting it and creating more dishes in the process. A little extra won’t hurt if you eyeball things on the more generous side like I do.
There’s a tiny bit of grittiness from the crushed gingery cookies, which adds to its appeal.
After stirring in the cookie butter, stir in the flour until just combined, and transfer the mixture to a foil-lined 8-by-8-inch pan. The layer won’t be very thick in the pan, but it’s going to be topped with glorious streusel topping.
To make the streusel topping, combine half of one stick of butter, cinnamon and sugars, oats, flour, and either stir it together, cut it together with a pastry cutter, or just use your hands until pea-sized buttery nuggets form. I use my hands because it’s the fastest and in less than a minute, it comes together.
Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter in the pan. It’ll seem that there’s lots of it, almost too much, but it magically soaks in while the bars bake. Plus, I love streusel topping and can never have too much. I could and do go around picking it off. Case in point, these Mango Muffins with Streusel Topping
Bake the bars for about 30 minutes and until the center is set and the edges have firmed up. The edges are the best clues to the bars being done because it’s hard to really see what’s going on in the center of the pan underneath all that streusel topping. At 29 minutes, I observed edge pieces that were quite firm and crusting over, and knew it was time to pull the pan from the oven.
Once out of the oven, I drizzled two tablespoons melted Cookie Butter over the top of the bars, to add both visual appeal and boost the flavor even more.
They’re everything I hoped they’d be, and more. The cinnamon-and-spice quality is definitely present. Cookie butter is full of gingerbread cookies and cinnamon, and since I added to the cinnamon load by adding it to the batter and to the streusel topping, the bars were bursting with a warm, comforting quality.
Coupled with vanilla, and the depth of flavor from the all-brown sugar sweetened batter that takes on caramel tones while baking, the flavor combination is just heaven sent. If Cookie Butter could get any better, pairing it with extra cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar is how.
There’s also plenty to chew on. Mono-textured desserts like custards and puddings are usually too blah for me. I like to sink my teeth into things, and these bars are just that. The streusel topping crisps up and adds so much texture to an otherwise soft and smooth bar. The bars require some serious chewing and chomping as well as some dental floss later on to get all that texture out from your teeth.
The underside and the edges baked up extra-chewy, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t even use bread flour, which makes things chewier than all-purpose. The interior of the bars are dense, tender, moist, soft, and just melt in your mouth. The top streusel layer protected the interior from the oven’s heat, so it stayed wonderfully soft and moist. The brown sugar caramelizes while baking and adds so much caramely depth of flavor.
There are no chemical leaveners used in this recipe; no baking powder or soda, so the bars stay flat, dense, and are not at all cakey. I dislike cakey blondies or brownies. If these were brownies, they’d be the super dense, fudgy variety, with zero amount of cakiness.
I make so many desserts and although we always enjoy them well enough, but not every single thing is earth-shattering, and doesn’t get my family oohing and ahhing. These, however, were oohed and ahhed about plenty.
The recipe makes just 9 squares, which is what I typically yield from my 8×8 pan recipes, and those 9 pieces went quickly. Gone in 24 hours.
I want one more bite.
Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Streusel Bars
These easy and fast bars combine three things I love: Cookie Butter, brown sugar, and streusel topping. The bars are soft, tender and moist in the center with lots of chewiness around the edges. The streusel topping adds tons of texture to the smooth Cookie Butter and brown sugar interior. The flavors of cinnamon-and-sugar, and gingerbread cookies (that's what Cookie Butter is made from) are very pronounced in these soft, chewy, caramely bars. If Cookie Butter could get any better, pairing it with cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar is how.
Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 generous squares
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
For the Bars
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted you could also use browned butter)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light; dark may be used for more robust flavor)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- heaping 1/3 cup smooth Cookie Butter (or creamy Biscoff; peanut butter will lend a different flavor but may be substituted; or use Homemade Cookie Butter)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
For the Streusel Topping
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (half of one stick), softened
- 1/2 cup whole rolled old-fashioned oats (not quick cook or instant)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light; dark may be used for more robust flavor)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1+ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste (I used 2 teaspoons, add to taste)
- 2 tablespoons Cookie Butter, melted for final drizzle after baking
For the Bars
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter, about 1 minute. Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the egg. Add the egg, 1 cup brown sugar, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and whisk or stir until smooth. Add the heaping 1/3 cup Cookie Butter, and stir to incorporate. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don't overmix. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula; set pan aside.
For the Streusel Topping
- In the same bowl you made the batter in (provided you scraped it fairly clean with a spatula), add all the streusel ingredients except the 2 tablespoons cookie butter for final drizzle post-baking, and work the mixture with a spoon, a pastry cutter, or your hands until small pebbles form. Sprinkle topping evenly over base layer (it looks like there's quite a bit, but it seeps in during baking).
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly; and the edges are set and have pulled away slightly from sides of pan. It will be hard to determine how set the center is because it's hard to see what's going on underneath the streusel topping and edges are the best clues. I baked for 29 minutes, at which point most edges were quite firm, crusted over, and the corners were crisping. Testing for doneness in the center with a toothpick is another clue; toothpick should come out mostly clean.
- After bars emerge from the oven, heat 2 tablespoons of Cookie Butter in the microwave to melt, about 15 seconds. Immediately and evenly drizzle Cookie Butter over the top. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Store bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Biscoff Marshmallow Chocolate Bars (no-bake) – Fast, easy, and 5 minutes to make. A twist on the bars my grandma used to make with pink and green marshmallows and peanut butter. These use regular marshmallows, graham crackers, and it’s glued together with a melted Biscoff-chocoalte mixture
Caramel Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation) – The base and the top streusel layer are one in the same, a major time-saver. PB & J, brown sugar and oats, with caramel sauce baked right in
Cookie Butter Funfetti Triple Chip Bars – An easy bar that pairs Cookie Butter with melted sweetened condensed milk. The sweet sauce is drizzled over the top of the cake-bars before baking
Brown Sugar Maple Cookies – Buttery, very flavorful, soft and chewy. The brown sugar takes on caramel tones while baking, giving the cookies great richness and depth of flavor
Chocolate Banana and Biscoff Graham Bars – Bananas and chocolate are a great pairing and adding Biscoff before baking it all into a melted and gooey layered bar is a great way to use those ripe bananas
Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies – The blondies have peanut butter mixed into the dough, and peanut butter is swirled on top. They were the springboard for today’s recipe, although they use PB rather than cookie butter, but the ratios and principles are similar
Browned Butter Caramel and Butterscotch Bars – Dark brown sugar, butterscotch and oodles of caramel combine in these dense, rich, robustly-flavored and easy bars
Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze – The flavor of cinnamon rolls with none of the work or long waiting time. There’s a thick layer of streusel topping baked right in to this easy cake
Do you like Cookie Butter or Biscoff?
Feel free to link to your favorite recipes.