Big Batch Peanut Butter Congo Bars
I wasn’t going to cook today. I really wasn’t. But then, my kids and their friends wanted to have a lemonade stand. After a cooler than usual spring, the weather has been sunny and warm. It was a perfect idea and, somehow, every time there is a lemonade stand in our driveway, I make cookies to be sold alongside the lemonade. I did it once early on, and that set the standard. Truth is, I love doing it!
This was the perfect excuse to get out an old camp recipe that yields a humongous amount of cookies. It isn’t often that cookie ingredients are listed by the pound! The recipe is ideal whenever you have to provide dessert for a crowd, and who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie? Making them in bars saves a lot of time, and the addition of peanut butter makes them extra special.
The kids almost always choose a special cause to which to donate their lemonade stand profits. This time, the group decided to send it to the Boston Marathon survivors. I have to do a little research as to where to send the money; I know there are many worthy options. If anyone has a helpful suggestion, I encourage you to comment.
As for the recipe, complete credit goes to my old girls camp in Maine, Alford Lake Camp. I spent seven magical summers there (’81-’86 for any fellow ALCers!) and have friendships that last through today. If you have a girl who would enjoy a summer camp experience, either as a camper or a counselor, I cannot say enough positive things about the people or the place. I still keep in touch with the directors and love their philosophy on what really matters. And if you like these cookies, I will have to work on their world-famous apple crisp recipe!
NOTE: Someone recently asked if she could make this recipe without the peanut butter. I have not made this recipe that way but have a favorite classic chocolate chip bar cookie recipe that I highly recommend. It is included as a part of a Giant Chipwich Cake recipe. As an option, you may bake that batter in a jelly roll pan or a 14-inch pizza pan, and double or triple if an extra large batch is required. Click here to see the recipe.
If you need to feed a crowd for a school bake sale, big party or, in this case, a kids’ lemonade stand, this big batch recipe is for you! It comes from my childhood camp, Alford Lake Camp in Hope, Maine. These bar cookies taste every bit as good today as they did so many summers ago!
- 2 1/2 pounds all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds butter
- 1 1/2 pounds peanut butter
- 1 pound granulated sugar
- 1 pound light brown sugar
- 8 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3 pounds semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line three 17×11-inch baking sheets with sides with parchment paper or grease well. (You may also vary the pan size and/or bake in several batches.)
- In a very large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. (If you don’t have an extra large mixing bowl, you could use a large stock pot.)
- Using an stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.
- At this point, I find it easiest to add about half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in the stand mixer. Then I turn everything into my extra large bowl with the remaining dry ingredients and finished mixing by hand. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. It’s a great arm workout!
- Spread the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pans and bake 17-20 minutes or until just cooked. I like them just barely cooked through in the center to ensure a moister cookie, so check a minute or two early. When cooled completely, cut into bars.
If you do not have a stand mixer, you may do this by hand. A fellow camper who has made this recipe melts the butter to make mixing by hand easier.
Size-wise, you may bake in any combination of pans you prefer. Simply adjust the cooking time slightly if you use a smaller pan or choose to make a thicker bar cookie.