Serves a Crowd

Grandma Reilly's Congo Bars

August  4, 2013
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

If my childhood had an official cookie, it would have to be my grandmother's Congo Bars. I'm not sure if my grandmother was the mastermind behind this recipe, but she definitely had a black belt in baking these gooey gifts to the world. They are like a fudgy brownie in texture, but the brown sugar makes them taste caramel-y. Even my half-siblings, who only had them a few times when visiting on weekends, still rave about these bars. They are best eaten out of a square-bottomed glass cookie jar, just like at Grandma Reilly's. —Abbie C

Test Kitchen Notes

What a delicious bar cookie! These are a potentially addictive and indulgent afternoon snack; I could also picture the congo bars served, if you cut them larger, as a plated dessert in the comfort food genre, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce. The congo bars have a fudgy, gooey texture with a bit of crunch, provided you include the optional walnuts. The brown sugar gives them a butterscotch-y flavor that lingers after every bite. I sprinkled mine with a little sea salt on top, but they are great as is, too! —navahfrost

  • Makes about 2 dozen bars
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Melt the shortening in a large saucepan. Mix in the brown sugar, then cool. Make sure you let this mixture cool completely or your chocolate chips will melt when you add them to the batter.
  3. Mix in the eggs, then mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. The batter will be stiff.
  4. Mix in the chocolate chips, nuts, and vanilla extract. I've added the vanilla when I've added the eggs before, and it doesn't seem to make a difference -- but Grandma said to add it here.
  5. Spread batter onto a greased jellyroll pan and bake for 18 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool, then cut into square shaped bars.

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