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Bars/Squares Ideas

Would love some recommendations on recipes that can be done on an 8x8 or 9x13 pan that would be sturdy enough to cut and stack up to bring in to an event two days later.

So nothing sticky like cheesecake bars, lemon bars, fruit filled bars, etc. People aren't huge chocoholics so was thinking of avoiding brownies.

I was thinking something more original that chocolate chip bars, maybe some sort of blondies but not sure was fillings would be enjoyed by many at the event.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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  1. These banana blondies are great. Delicious and they cut into really nice pieces.


    2 Replies
      1. re: Lorry13

        They're great. I usually add one-to-two more bananas to up the flavor.

    1. 7 Layer Bars (a.k.a. Magic Cookie Squares) are always a hit, and you can vary the types of toppings you put on (avoid all chocolate if you want)

      Rice Krispie Treats (or any other cereal for variety)

      ...both of those keep really well too, so you can make them a couple of days ahead no problem.

      If it doesn't have to be a bar/square, there are infinite types of bark candy that you can make: https://www.google.com/search?q=barks...

      Could you make fudge squares?

      4 Replies
      1. re: jbsiegel

        Great ideas! I've made 7 layer Nutella Bars and those were delicious but very sticky so I was unsure about doing those.

        This is for an informal work potluck, but rice krispies treats doesn't sound like a great idea for a bunch of professionals with a ton of degrees haha!

        Bark candy is a def possibility. I'm willing to add chocolate (plus I really love chocolate myself!) just thought brownies and fudge would be too rich for some people.

        1. re: Lorry13

          I'm going to throw one out there that I just love...might not be right for professionals, but REALLY good:

          Slutty Brownies: http://www.sluttybrowniesrecipe.com/

          I've also done sugar cookie dough on the bottom, Oreos in the middle and then sugar cookie dough on top. Those were big sellers too.

          And you'd be surprised about the RK Treats. Make them with some other cereal? I'm always amazed that they go first virtually everywhere! You could mix something in there? Add a drizzle on top? Here's a red velvet version: http://fromdahliastodoxies.blogspot.c... Or top them with a relatively hard, thin, layer of chocolate so that they still stack.

          1. re: jbsiegel

            Haha these can always be renamed and few will know the original name of these decadent brownies =)

          2. re: Lorry13

            A bunch of professionals with a ton of degrees are not immune to the siren-call of rice krispies treats (speaking from years of experience here)!

            Plain or topped with brown-sugar/penuche layer, since you're avoiding chocolate and peanut butter is too sticky.

          1. More from me (love these things!)...

            The Pioneer Woman uses cookie dough (whatever kind you want) in a mini muffin tin and then presses a candy (Hershey Kiss, Mini Reese's, ...) into the top when they come out of the oven. Lots of varieties here!


            1. These Carmelitas from Kelsey Nixon are delicious. The salted caramel sauce is under the crumb topping so they aren't too sticky.


              1. Mark Bittman's blondie recipe is super simple and a great starting point for various flavor combinations - chocolate and peanut butter chips; dried cranberries and pistachios and/or white chocolate chips; toasted pecans and coconut . . .

                1 Reply
                1. re: cookie monster

                  +1. These have become my go-to blondie recipe. People go nuts for them. I've made them several times, always changing up the ingredients based on what's in the house, and they're always great. Whenever I make them, I just grab whatever nuts, chips, etc., I happen to have in the freezer and go from there.

                2. If rice krispie treats are good enough for the ATK staff.....

                  I say make some!!
                  This previous chow thread even had some great ideas too:

                  1 Reply
                  1. Mark Bittman's blondies are out of this world and he lists a zillion different ideas for stuff in them. I like espresso powder and toasted pecans with a smudge of coconut.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: magiesmom

                      Do you have a link to his original recipe? Found Smitten Kitchen's version and she lists some variations but was wondering how much shredded coconut to use so that there is a coconut flavor without making the blondies too moist?

                      I like the idea of coconut, chocolate and maybe nuts but don't want to overdo the add-ins!

                      1. re: Lorry13

                        I have an older version of his cookbook and he lists add ins at 1/2c for the blondie combos (the 1/2c salted nuts and 1/2c chopped caramels combo sounds wonderful!)

                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          Thanks Ttrockwood for the add ins amounts!

                    2. Oatmeal raspberry (jam) coconut bars?
                      I decrease sugar, increase (& vary) jam.
                      Made these often for an office with vegetarians, since there are no eggs.

                      1. Both molasses bars and applesauce bars would both improve after a couple of days and also cut, stack,and travel really well. I would layer them with waxed paper in between.

                        I've been rolling around recipes for both, just stuff I pulled off the web, but I don't have any to offer that I've actually tried.

                        1. Snickerdoodle blondies?

                          And these currant squares are dynamite. They look completely unordinary but are very more-ish and a huge hit whenever I make them. The recipe is by Nick Malgieri; I think it's from his "Cookies Unlimited" book. They're so good that since I can't find it online I'll type it out for you.

                          2/3 c. water
                          1.5 c. currants or raisins (dark, golden or a combination
                          )1 tsp. baking soda
                          2 c. all-purpose flour
                          1.5 tsp. baking powder
                          .5 tsp nutmeg (he says freshly grated, I just use the ordinary stuff. don't skimp on this though, it totally makes the recipe)
                          12 tbsp. butter, softened
                          1 c. white sugar
                          1 tsp. vanilla
                          2 large eggs

                          Butter a 9x13 inch pan and line it with buttered parchment paper or foil.

                          Combine water and raisins or currants in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda (exciting!) and allow to cool completely.

                          Mix flour, baking powder and nutmeg.

                          Cream butter and sugar together, then beat in vanilla and eggs one at a time. Stir in the currants and water, then stir in the flour.

                          Scrape into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes until well risen, well colored and a toothpick comes out clean.

                          Cool completely before cutting into squares.

                          Rich and delicious! These keep in an air-tight container for several days, theoretically, although they've never lasted more than 3 days in my house.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: P_penelope

                            Both good ideas! Thanks for the suggestions and recipe!

                          2. Martha Stewart's brown butter toffee bars are my go-to. Good enough that even the gym crowd that doesn't eat stuff like that devoured them.

                            1. Kristin King's almond squares:

                              They're easy, they're excellent, they quickly disappear!

                              1. Nanaimo bars! It's a 3 layered bar: chocolate/wafer/coconut/nut bottom, firm vanilla custard middle and then a light topping of melted chocolate. They can be done days ahead and DO NOT require baking!! However, they do require a custard powder. They are versatile enough that they can be flavored with mint, mocha, orange, etc but I would stick with the original.

                                These are a national favorite here in Canada. Maybe something new your guests haven't tried.

                                Just an idea...

                                1. Oatmeal peanut butter bars if you want to do something healthyish