Bar cookies, a one-pan dessert, are ideal for all your summer get-togethers, from barbecues to wedding showers.

I have several kinds that I have made for years now, such as lemon, blueberry cheesecake, and pecan pie bars, but today I wanted to go for something different; I think that I have accomplished that with the two recipes below.’

I know you must have your favorites that friends and family look forward to you baking; if you have any bar cookie recipe that may be more un-common but an absolute favorite, please send it to me.

When fresh sweet cherries are in season this summer, try these:

Cherry Chocolate Bars

Makes 25 bars


1 cup butter, softened, divided

21/2 cups packed brown sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, divided

11/2 teaspoon vanilla, divided

21/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

11/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups fresh sweet cherries such as bing, pitted

1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds (lightly toast in small non-stick pan on top of stove)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-by-2 inch baking pan with foil.

In mixing bowl beat 1/2 cup of the butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, occasionally scraping bowl. Beat in 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla. Beat or stir in 11/4 cups of the flour. Stir in oats; set aside.

For filling, in saucepan, stir remaining 11/2 cups brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter over medium heat until combined; cool slightly; stir in remaining 3 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla; lightly beat with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining 11/4 cups flour and the chocolate.

Set aside three-quarters of oats mixture; press remaining in pan. Spread filling, top with cherries, dot with reserved oats mixture, and sprinkle nuts.

Bake 25 minutes, until top is light brown and filling is moist. Cool on rack for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Lift from pan; cut with a serrated knife.

If you like graham cracker bars (and there are different flavors), try these:

Graham Cracker Pecan Bars

Makes 24 bars


3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

12 graham cracker rectangles

Frosting to drizzle:

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons milk

For filling, in a medium saucepan combine 3/4 cup butter, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup milk, and egg. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and crumbs. Cool 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 6 of the graham cracker rectangles, side by side, on a foil-lined baking sheet to make rectangle about 10-by-7 inches in size. Spoon filling in small mounds onto graham cracker rectangles. Carefully spread to an even layer, being careful not to move crackers. Place remaining cracker rectangles on top to match up with bottom rectangles. Lightly cover bars with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or until filling is firm.

Cut into 24 bars.

In a small bowl beat 1 tablespoon butter with whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and enough milk to make a thick drizzling consistency. Drizzle over bars. Let stand until set.

Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at


TIPS FOR BAR COOKIE SUCCESS Start by lining the baking pan with foil or parchment paper extended beyond pan edges. That way, after baking, the bars will lift out in one piece, making them easy to cut neatly. Butter is better for flavor, richness, texture, and color, which is why these recipes call for it. Margarine can be substituted; to ensure the best results, choose margarine made with at least 80 percent vegetable oil or that is at least 100 calories per tablespoon. When measuring flour, stir it, then lightly spoon it into the appropriate cup size and level off with the straight edge of a knife or spatula. Do not pack the flour or tap the cup when filling it. Brown sugar, on the other hand, should be pressed firmly into the measuring cup; it will hold the shape of the cup when turned out. Pay close attention to pan sizes in bar recipes. Too large may result in dry bars, especially around the edges. Too small, and the centers may be underbaked and doughy. Allow enough time for the bars to cool completely in the pan before cutting. Cooling helps the bars set up and hold their shape. Cutting too early will cause them to fall apart and not cut neatly. If you are packing bars to send in the mail, keep bars looking good by layering them between sheets of parchment or wax paper.

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