Crispy Chocolate Chip Bars

Why settle for cookies when you can make crispy, chocolate-flecked bars?

By The Editors

Milk & Cookies by Tina Casaceli

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Who doesn't love chocolate-chip cookies? And who wouldn't love that buttery, fudgy flavor baked into crispy, delicious bars? From Milk & Cookies: 89 Heirloom Recipes from New York's Milk & Cookies Bakery (Chronicle Books) by New York bakery owner Tina Casaceli, these Crispy Chocolate Chip Bars will be welcome additions to your grandkids' lunchboxes, not to mention your own afternoon snack plate.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts or any other nut of choice

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Lightly coat a 17-1/4-by-11-1/2-by-1-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick vegetable spray. Lay a piece of parchment paper into the pan, taking care that it fits neatly at the sides and corners. Set aside.

3. Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Put the butter in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Begin beating on low speed to soften. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and creamy.

5. With the motor running, gradually add the granulated sugar and then the brown sugar, beating until very light and creamy.

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat to incorporate. Beat in the vanilla and, when blended, slowly beat in the reserved flour mixture. When the dough is well blended, remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the paddle clean.

7. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, beating until evenly distributed. You can also do this in the mixer, but heavy mixing tends to break up the chocolate and nuts and the result is a less chunky bar.

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool.

10. When cool, use a serrated knife to cut into small bars.

11. Store in layers separated by waxed paper, airtight, at room temperature for up to a week.

Makes 16 to 24 bars

Excerpted from Milk & Cookies © 2011 by Tina Casaceli. Reprinted with permission of Chronicle Books. Photographs by Antonis Achilleos.

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