It has been quite a crazy week in our household. Monday we listed our house for sale and by Friday it was under contract. So to say that we have been busy is an understatement. My kids have been champs about keeping things clean and moving in and out of the house between showings. All the hard work of getting the house ready and shuffling things and people around paid off and so far we are on our way to closing the door on living in our current house. Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere lined up to move to yet, but hopefully we will figure that out sooner than later.
For each of the showings we had at our house last week, I made sure to have fresh cookies out on the counter when people came to visit. It was so fun to see who would eat the cookies and who would pass on them. When our agent finally tried a cookie she loved them and let me know that others did as well. It is always fun to hear that people enjoy the treats that I make, because it is one of the biggest reasons that I love baking. It feels so wonderful to make a sweet treat that others enjoy. It felt like a natural partnership to have treats out during showings. If you feel good eating a treat, maybe you will feel better about our house and want to live in a place that comes with yummy cookies and feelings. I’m pretty sure it helped sell our house faster (at least that is what I am telling myself). So this week I made my classic chocolate chip cookies, I invented a dark chocolate sea salt and milky way cookie and finally I made churro bars.
I wanted to find a non chocolate cookie to offer some buyers that were coming back for a second showing and had already eaten the other cookies. I searched around for ideas and landed on these churro bars from the blog Cookies and Cups. It had all the hallmarks of recipes that I like- easy ingredients and something that I had not tried before! The steps were not complicated and the best part was that the whole recipe came together with a pan, a large mixing bowl and a spatula. You can’t beat that combo!
Before I began, I gathered my ingredients – Unsalted butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, cinnamon sugar and non-stick spray (which I forgot to take a picture of – I used coconut oil spray).
The first step of this recipe is the most time consuming and possibly daunting step of the whole recipe. You need to brown one cup of unsalted butter. To do this I cut up the butter into smaller pieces to help it melt quickly. Then I let the butter bubble for a few minutes to get as much of the water from the butter to evaporate. After most of the water evaporates it will stop bubbling big bubbles and the foaming will reduce. You will notice that you can seem more clearly to the milk solids or white specs on the bottom of the pan. While this is happening I pick the pan up pretty frequently and swirl that butter around to help prevent the milk solids from burning. As the solids begin to darken and brown the butter takes on a magnificent nutty smell. Knowing when to pull the butter off the heat is one of the trickiest things about browning butter. I think that I could have taken mine one or two shades darker, but it is always important to make sure you don’t let it go from browned to burnt, which can happen VERY QUICKLY! After the butter is browned, allow it to cool for 10-20 minutes until it is close to room temperature. Take this opportunity to pre-heat your oven to 350 F degrees.
While the butter was beginning to melt, I lined a 9×13-inch pan with foil and sprayed it with my favorite non-stick baking spray – I use coconut oil spray. Then I sprinkled my cinnamon sugar mixture to make sure it covered the entire bottom of my pan. We keep a mason jar of cinnamon sugar in our spice cabinet for easy use. If you don’t have a combo you love, you can mix 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, like the recipe suggests.
After the brown butter has cooled and your pan is prepared, the rest of the recipe comes together very quickly. Add your browned butter to a large mixing bowl. Make sure to scrape all the small brown bits at the bottom of the bowl – they have all the flavor! Then mix 2 cups of brown sugar into the butter. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla and mix them till combined. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon of kosher or course salt. Finally, add 2 1/2 cups of flour to the mixture. The blog author makes a special note to make sure that you use the scoop and sweep technique to measure out your flour. If you just scoop it right from your container, it will be too compact and end up adding too much flour to this recipe. King Arthur Flour has a great tips section article and video that explains how to do this properly. Check it out right here.
Once the flour is just mixed in and you cannot see any pockets or streaks of flour left in the mix, dump the dough into the prepared baking sheet. I used my small offset spatula to spread the dough throughout the whole pan. I made sure to push the dough into the corners and into a nice even layer. You could also really easily use your hands to do this step too. Then I spread another layer of cinnamon sugar on top of the dough and sprinkled a small amount of flaky sea salt before I baked the bars.
The recipe says to bake the bars for 25-30 minutes or until the edges have begun to turn a nice golden brown. I checked mine at 25 minutes and they were golden but I was a little nervous about pulling them out at this point, so I gave them another 3 minutes, but looking back, they would have been just fine at the 25 minute mark. I sprinkled a small amount of pearl sugar over the top to make them look a little more interesting. I let the bars cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. This is the main reason that I think mine would have been fine coming out a little bit earlier, since they continue to cook while they are cooling in the pan.
The foil lining made it very easy to pull the whole pan of churro bars out of the pan. A word of warning though, do your best to keep the foil sling level while moving it to the cutting board. I pulled my edges up too high and got a crack in the middle of my bars, which didn’t matter when I sliced them but I would have had a little more flexibility if I had kept them from cracking. I decided to cut the bars into finger shaped slices to make them easy for house shoppers to pick up and carry around the house. The feedback from potential buyers and agents was unanimous that they loved these cookies! They were super easy and will be added to my cookie rotation for sure.
- If you love a good churro, but don’t want to go to a street festival or amusement park to find one – give this recipe a try.
- I like snickerdoodle cookies, but hate rolling individual cookies in cinnamon sugar mixture, so this bar technique with spreading cinnamon sugar on the bottom and the top of the pan made this so simple to get yummy cinnamon sugar on each cookie.
- I’m happy that home buyers liked my cookies and our house!
Recipe – Churro Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – measured using the scoop and sweep method found here
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Flake salt or pearl sugar for topping – if desired
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat melt butter until it bubbles. Swirl pan continuously until it reaches an amber color and the milk solids on the bottom of the pan are browned and there is a nice nutty aroma. Remove from heat and allow butter to cool for 20 minutes.
- Whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Coat the bottom of the pan with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside until needed.
- In a large bowl combine the browned butter and brown sugar and stir to combine. Add eggs and vanilla stir to combine. Add baking powder and salt and stir until smooth. Finally add in flour and mix until just incorporated.
- Use your hands or an offset spatula to press the dough on top the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar on top. Sprinkle pearl sugar and flake salt on top if you wish.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden.
- Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, use the foil to remove bars from the pan and cut into pieces.
- Store airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups