HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


looking for great "bar" recipes (lemon bar, seven layer bar... etc.)

Here's the deal. I'm a guy and i just started working at a hospital. I love baking so I want to wow (and win over) some of the nurses with some baked goods, and i figure bars are the easiest way to make a bunch. (not neccesarily the bars listed above though)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Perfect for fall, yummy, and simple!
    Pumpkin Bars
    3 eggs
    1 2/3 cups sugar
    16 oz canned pumpkin
    1 cup oil
    Mix well.
    2 cups flour
    1 t. soda
    2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. salt
    2 t. cinnamon
    Mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet. Spread in ungreased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool & frost with cream cheese frosting. (1/2 cup butter, 1/2 t. vanilla, 8 oz cream cheese, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar) Refrigerate.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 4maxwelz

      I like the idea of a pumpkin bar, and this recipe looks pretty good. However, do you think I can replace some, if not all, the oil in this recipe with applesauce? Does the oil add something in particular that applesauce cannot replace?

      1. re: Ali

        I would try it. I haven't ever "played" with the recipe. The oil makes them VERY moist. (not to mention fattening....) Perhaps starting with 1/2 oil, 1/2 applesauce would work? Let us know!

    2. okay, these are so easy because I cheat but here it goes:

      2 pkgs pillsbury chocolate chop cookie dough
      1 cup peanut butter
      1 cup powdered sugar
      2 T vanilla

      Spread 1 roll into a 9" square pan
      Mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar and vanilla
      press mixture on top of cookie dough
      use about half of another roll to crumble on top of that
      Bake @ 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes(I always lean more towards the 30 b/c you refridgerate the pan after it bakes-it doesn't look quite done sometimes but it is-trust me!
      Cool 30 minutes and then refridgerate for 1 hour until chilled.
      Cut into bars and eat. I always make these on a pinch and everyone loves them.

      1. Brownies are "bar" cookies, and most women swoon over chocolate (men like chocolate, but they don't have the intense emotional relationship with it that many women do). Here are a couple -- the one I submitted is very easy -- you can add nuts if you want, and they're actually better made the day before.

        If you want something they've probably never had, find a recipe for Nanaimo bars -- a Canadian specialty (and delicious). http://www.chowhound.com/topics/298280

        7 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            For round one I went with the Nanaimo bars. I felt like a hack since they required a minimum level of skill, but it was a huge success. When asked what they were I didn't want to say "nanaimo bars," and then have to go into an explanation of what they are, so I just said "job security."

            I decided the chocolate plan was good. For round two I'm just going to a simple chewy chocolate, chocolate chip cookie. I figure I'll start with the sure hits and then maybe try some more interesting things. I'd like to tackle the kouign amann sometime, but I'll wait till they trust me.

            This is the cookie recipe i plan on using. any suggestions or alternates? I like a thin, crisp sugary exterior with a gooey interior.


            1. re: kindofabigdeal

              Thanks for reporting back! What recipe for Nanaimo bars did you use? I've never actually made them myself (although I've had them in Canada).

              If you want to veer away from chocolate, did anyone mention shortbread? A really rich shortbread is always a winner, and lots of recipes can be made in a bar version.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                The very first thing I did was melting moments from joy of baking. http://joyofbaking.com/MeltingMoments.... They are shortbread-esque. They are delicious as well, though i might add both a little salt and sugar. a tiny amount only. I might return to shorbread and do a nutella thing, since not everyone appreciates shortbread as is.

                For the nanaimo bars I unintentionally returned to joy of baking for the nanaimo recipe that was linked by someone on this thread. http://www.joyofbaking.com/NanaimoBar....

                1. re: kindofabigdeal

                  Thanks -- that does look super easy! Did you use custard powder or go with the vanilla pudding mix?

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I used pudding mix. I could have gotten bird's, but it was like 3.99 versus .79 because I'd have to buy a whole tin. It tasted great and there was no texture or consistency problems.

                  2. re: kindofabigdeal

                    kindofabigdeal, it had to be 20 years ago, at an office Christmas party, and a guy brought in what looked like Mexican Wedding Cookies. Only, they were astoundingly tender and, as this recipe indicates, melted in the mouth.

                    I asked him to plllllease get me the recipe. Next I see him, and ask him for the recipe, his said that his wife would only say they had cornstarch in them.

                    And now, allllll these years later -- until now, I hadn't even thought of them -- there they are! Thank you very much.

            2. Figgy Raspberry Bars

              1 1/2 cup figs cut up
              1 cup raspberries
              1 cup sugar
              1/2 c hot water
              1 /4 cup fresh lemon juice
              1-2 T Grand Marnier
              pecans optional
              cook all over medium heat until the fruit is completely broken down and creamy thick.

              These are the best bars. If you can't find figs buy some fig jam and mix it with raspberry jam-close enough
              about 15 minutes -stir frequently, don't walk off.
              1 cup of brown sugar
              1 cup butter
              Cream butter and sugar until fluffy then add the rest mix well
              1/2 tsp salt
              1 3/4 cup oats
              1 3/4 flour-sifted
              1/2 tsp vanilla
              Split this in half reserve for topping
              Line a well greased shallow baking dish 8x12 with half the flour mix, then add the filling evenly distributing the fruit mix, then top with the remaining flour mix.
              I add very finely chopped pecans to the topping about 1/2 cup total if you add to the filling also, its up to you.
              Bake at 350 degrees 30-35 minutes
              until lightly brown

              Cool and Serve
              Makes 12 big bars or 24 small ones.

              1. These 7 layer bars are easy but time consuming, and very impressive...


                1 Reply
                1. re: geminigirl

                  Whoa those look really intense! (but delicious)

                2. you must try this recipe for lemon squares. I've made it at least a dozen times and each time I get several requests for the recipe. It's awesome and easy to make.



                  1 Reply
                  1. re: HungryLetsEat

                    I second this recommendation. I make these all the time and they are amazing.

                  2. Take the basic lemon square recipe (1 c.flour, 1 stick (8 tbps.) butter, 1/4 c. 10x sugar mixed into pastry (can use food processor) - spread into 8" sq. baking pan, bake 25 min. or til lightly browned; 1 c. gran. sugar, 2 eggs, 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp baking posder 1/4 tsp. salt beaten together, pour into crust, bake another 20 min) and finely grate rind of 1 lemon, finely grate rind of 1 lime; mix fresh lime and fresh lemon juice for about 1/4 c. total liq. - use mix of lemon and lime and add grated rind to filling mixture, follow basic recipe otherwise) - whenyou pull this out of the oven, dust it w/ 10x sugar before cutting into squares.

                    1. Nanaimo Bars are easy and popular

                      Or, these Seven Layer Bars to which I'd add butterscotch chips as well:

                      1. I make brownies, layer 1/2 the recipe into a 9X13 pan, distribute a bag of small York Peppermint Patties around the pan, then spread the remaining brownie batter on top. Result - brownies that even my friend's non-chocolate super macho husband drools over.

                        Remember you can make Tollhouse cookies in bar form - always popular and very quick. To mix it up you could make M&M bar cookies - same recipe as Tollhouse but sub in M&Ms.

                        For 7-layer bars, I swear by the Eagle Brand recipe - find it on their site at www.eaglebrand.com - I think they're best w/butterscotch chips. Also on that site is a cran-apple bar recipe that I've made a few times to raves . . . . I like this one less b/c it uses canned cranberry sauce - have been meaning to try subbing in fresh cranberries for more zing - you might try it.

                        Good luck - I'm sure you'll make a splash!

                        1. I make traditional cheesecake bars and then spice them up.
                          Layer your graham crust.
                          Ontop of that, add a mixture of toasted pecans and caramel sauce (I use bottled stuff)
                          Pour in your favorite cheescake mixture and bake
                          Top with sugar and "brulee" the top with a kitchen torch.
                          People swoon!
                          Funny thing is that I made these for my hubby who was also trying to win the good graces of some nurses. It worked.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: kindofabigdeal

                              In general yes, though after a few hours it does suffer a bit. But, if you fire it right before you leave for the hospital it should stay crunchy long enough for most folks to have a chance to sample.

                          1. I call these Heart of Tartness...I think that was the name of the article in Gourmet. The recipe calls them cranberry turtle bars. They have made it to the permanent Christmas cookie rotation.


                            1. I second the Nanaimo bar motion and also add to that my Mom's butterscotch brownies - so freakin' good. I can get the recipe if you want. I grew up on bars and squares probably due to all the church functions and bake sales as a kid. A great "bible" is a Canadian publication by Jean Pare, author of the Company's Comming cookbooks which have been around at least 20 years. Her "150 Delicious Squares" book is great and I have yet to have any of her recipies fail. The pictures are great too!

                              Here's a link to the company site and cookbook:


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                                I'm always looking for a good butterscotch brownie recipe, so please share!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Will do - I will email mom tonight and post tomorow. She makes them every Christmas *drool*

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    My mother's recipe doesn't use any butterscotch chips, but they're really good and SO easy.


                                    2 sticks butter
                                    1 lb. light brown sugar
                                    2 c. sifted flour
                                    1 tsp. baking powder
                                    1 tsp. vanilla
                                    2 c. broken or chopped pecans

                                    Heat oven to 375ยบ and melt butter in a 9 x 13 pan. Put brown sugar l large mixer bowl and pour melted butter over it. Cream butter and sugar and beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients and pour back into already buttered pan. Bake 25-30 minutes and cut into squares or bars when cool.

                                2. I discovered this past Christmas that the recipe for blondies on the back of the Toll House butterscotch chip bag is delicious. I added coconut and chocolate chips to them to make them even crazier. I mist have made about five batches because people kept asking me to bring them to various events. I think they're so good because they call for so much vanilla. They make the kitchen smell great.

                                  1. I love citrus bars. Here's one of my favorite recipes, which I cobbled together from several different ones: Key Lime Blueberry Bars:

                                    5 ounces animal crackers (or graham crackers, if you prefer)
                                    3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
                                    Pinch table salt
                                    4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly


                                    2 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
                                    1 tablespoon grated lime zest , minced
                                    Pinch table salt
                                    1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
                                    1 egg yolk
                                    1/2 cup fresh lime juice , either Key lime or regular
                                    Zest from the juiced limes (add to taste, 1-2 TB)
                                    1 cup fresh blueberries (you can leave out if you wish, given the season)

                                    Garnish (optional)

                                    3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut , toasted until golden and crisp

                                    1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place foil in and up the sides of an 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

                                    2. THE CRUST: In workbowl of food processor, pulse animal crackers until crumbs are evenly fine. Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

                                    3. THE FILLING: In medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly). Mix in lime zest.

                                    4. TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Drizzle blueberries evenly right onto the filling. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

                                    5. Loosen edges with paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve.

                                    1. Suggest buying a Maida Heatter cookbook. She has a fantastic lemon bar recipe, many great brownie recipes, probably all of which are used commercially somewhere. I frequently buy brownies and recognize a recipe of hers I've made. Unless you just don't like an ingredient, you really can't go wrong with a Maida recipe. And they are the best-written recipes out there--fun to read too. I believe I have every dessert cookbook she's ever written (some are out of print--I found those at antique malls--the inscriptions are often cute).

                                      Btw, bars are probably not the best way to make a bunch--drop cookies probably are. But bars are probably going to be richer, so it's still a good idea ;)

                                      Also btw, if you're looking to wow the girls, many guys don't like nuts. Go ahead & put them in--we do :)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: foiegras

                                        Her books are definitely fabulous. In one or two of her books she has similar recipes for brownies with a cheesecake ribbon swirled through them. They are very dense and somewhat chewy and are always a crowd-pleaser. There is a killer carrot cake recipe in Great American Desserts, which is out of print, but which you may be able to find on Amazon.com or some other site that sells used books. I don't think it's the best thing for quick snacking while working, as you can't just grab it in your hand or a napkin and take off, but I just love that recipe.

                                      2. What about Paula Deen's Orange Brownies or her gooey butter cakes (really bars), that can be done in an infinite variety of flavors. These are both extremely delicious!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: mtleahy

                                          ooh, I forgot about gooey butter cake. That's a good one.

                                        2. Here's a good one:

                                          Cheesecake Bars with Pecan Crumble Topping: This is a terrific bar with a cookie crust, a cheesecake filling and a pecan crumble topping created by Marcy Goldman that I downloaded from the Clabber Girl website. In order to conform to Chowhound's rules, I'll have to point you to this link for the recipe:


                                          1. Update: ok, so this has kind of backfired. Now when birthdays roll around I hear, "so you're gonna bake a cake right?"

                                            So far most of my foods have been chocolate laden sweets and Peter Reinhart's recipe for basic white bread. I want to do something that is really interesting, but won't put off less adventurous palettes. Any ideas?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                              Make cinnamon rolls for Christmas time. Make a yeast roll recipe and then turn into cinnamon rolls by rolling out the dough and spreading sugar, butter, cinnamon, and raisins, then rolling up and slicing. Bake and top with thin cream cheese frosting. If you want a more specific recipe, let me know.