These Congo Bars (Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars) are soft, decadent, and chewy in the center with loads of melty, gooey chocolate in every bite. They’re the perfect easy, crowd-pleasing dessert!
In This Article
What are Congo Bars?
Congo bars are essentially thick chocolate chip cookie bars that have varying ingredients in them, depending on who you ask. Some recipes for Congo Bars include ingredients coconut and walnuts. We keep ours super simple and decadently delicious!
Why are They Called Congo Bars?
Recipes for Congo Bars are found in vintage cookbooks, but is seems nobody actually knows where the name came from. Some say the term originated from a certain region and others say it refers to certain ingredients in the bars. Regardless of their mysterious moniker, you and your family and friends will love these Congo Bars.
Why This Recipe Stands Out
These ooey-gooey Congo Bars are one of our favorite dessert bar recipes to make for friends and family. Here’s why we love this recipe:
- Simple Ingredients: Just 8 simple ingredients are all that’s needed for this recipe. And they’re things you probably already have on hand.
- Absolutely Delicious: A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, Congo Bars are like an extra thick, decadent bar version of Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.
- Super Easy: Just mix all the ingredients together, dump the batter into your pan, and bake – no chilling or shaping required!
- Versatile: This recipe is the perfect base for any add-ins you like.
- Make-Ahead: Congo Bars freeze wonderfully making them a perfect make-ahead treat.
Key Recipe Ingredients
- Brown Sugar – Dark brown sugar will give these blondies an extra rich, chewy texture, whereas light brown sugar will leave them slightly lighter and fluffier but still chewy. Use whichever one you prefer.
- Salted Butter – Softened butter makes this treat smell glorious and taste even better!
- Eggs – Eggs help the bars hold together and contribute to that beautiful golden exterior.
- Chocolate Chips – We use plenty of semi-sweet chocolate chips to make these Congo Bars truly melt in your mouth.
Substitutions And Variations
Congo Bars (Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars) are the perfect medium to experiment with whatever mix-ins you can think of. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Chocolate: Feel free to switch to dark, milk, or white chocolate chips for these bars. You could also use candies like mini Reese’s peanut butter cups or M&Ms like we do in this Chewy Blondie Recipe.
- Mix-Ins: Feel free to have fun with add-ins! Try toasted/chopped almonds, pistachios, or pecans. Add toasted shredded coconuts, raisins, or cranberries.
- Toppings: If you’re craving an extra dose of sweetness, we recommend drizzling this 4-Ingredient Salted Caramel Sauce or this Hot Fudge Sauce on top of this treat.
- A La Mode: Serve Congo Bars a la mode with your favorite store-bought ice cream or this super easy recipe for Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
- Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Add eggs and vanilla; stir until combined.
- Whisk together dry ingredients, and fold with wet ingredients until just combined.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Press Congo Bar batter into a greased and floured 9×13 pan.
- Bake at 325F for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.
How To Prep Ahead
Although these cookie bars are super easy to make, we have a few tips to make them even easier. Check out these prep ahead hacks:
- Pre-mix Dry Ingredients: As with pretty much any recipe, you can always measure and mix the dry ingredients together far in advance and just store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to bake.
- Let Butter Warm: Take the butter out of the fridge early, to give it enough time to soften. This will make the mixing process go much more smoothly and quickly.
- Make-Ahead Dough: You can prepare the dough entirely, press it into the baking pan, and cover to chill until ready to bake. Because dough will be chilled, increase bake time as needed.
- Freeze the Bars: After your bars have completely cooled and you’ve cut them, simply store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. We like re-warming them in the microwave, but you can also let them thaw in the fridge overnight.
Commonly Asked Questions
Store Congo Bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Although we haven’t tried this yet, we think the recipe would probably work really well with 1:1 All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour. Give it a try and let us know how it works out!
Overmixing is often the main culprit for tough Congo Bars. That’s one reason why it’s important to work with softened butter and only mix them until just barely incorporated. Another culprit could be that you overbaked them. The center should still be soft and the outside should be light-golden and slightly puffy when they’re done.
You probably could, but for clear baking times and best results, we recommend using this recipe for Forever Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies instead.
The two are similar in basic ingredients, as they’re both made with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and baking powder or baking soda. Blondies typically incorporate white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, or M&M’s. Congo bars generally consist of semi-sweet chocolate chips and may include shredded coconut or walnuts.
Absolutely! Check out our recipe for One Bowl Chewy Monster Cookie Bars for the additions and measurements.
Did you make this?
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Congo Bars (Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars)
- Preheat oven to 325F, with rack on lower middle position. Grease and flour a 13×9 pan and set aside.
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using rubber spatula, fold butter mixture with flour mixture just until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Press dough into prepared pan, using spatula to even out the surface. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or just until top is lightly browned. It should look puffy, soft, and golden. Center will still be soft.
- Cool bars completely. Cut into squares. Store leftovers in airtight container at room temp.
- Make sure not to overmix the batter for these bars as it can leave you with tough, hard blondies.
- You want your bars to still be somewhat soft (slightly undercooked) in the middle after baking as they’ll continue to cook and harden as they cool.
- Serve these Congo Bars with a cold glass of milk or a la mode with this super Easy Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
Nutrition (per serving)
More To Bake And Eat
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – The age-old combo of peanut butter and chocolate comes together in these super easy, flourless cookies.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies – These soft, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth treats are one of our favorite cookie recipes all year round.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – The brown butter in this recipe creates a toffee-like flavor that is unbeatable!
Bakery Style Double Chocolate Cookies – This is the perfect cookie recipe for all the chocolate lovers out there. Bonus: the dough freezes wonderfully!
Healthy Cookies – These cookies have all the soft, chewy goodness that we love; but they’re also so healthy, they can pass as a decent breakfast.