These Congo squares are as chewy, ooey-gooey, and addictive as chocolate chip cookies!
The only differences are 1.) they’re in bar form and 2.) they’re 10 times easier and quicker to make.
Don’t get me wrong, I love some good-old chocolate chip cookies.
The only drawback is that you have to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before you can bake them.
With Congo squares, though, there’s no need to wait!
The dough will be confined in a baking pan, so you won’t have to worry about it overspreading.
This means you can bake it right after you make it! It’s the perfect recipe when you’re craving cookies, but don’t have the time.
Soft, buttery, and chocolatey, these Congo squares are simply irresistible. Let’s get to it.
Congo Squares Recipe
While the name suggests an exotic dessert, Congo squares are actually just a moniker for chocolate chip cookie bars.
The recipe combines chocolate chips, brown sugar, and walnuts, resulting in chewy, ooey-gooey bars with a buttery and caramel-like flavor.
- Shortening – Most recipes will call for butter, but here you’ll need shortening. It’ll make your Congo squares extra moist and ooey-gooey.
- Light Brown Sugar – Because brown sugar contains molasses, it helps make baked goods extra chewy.
- Eggs – When baking desserts, always use room-temperature eggs as they incorporate much easier with other ingredients.
- All-Purpose Flour – The base that gives the Congo squares their structure.
- Baking Powder – The leavening agent that’ll make the squares rise.
- Salt – A flavor enhancer.
- Walnuts – For added texture.
- Chocolate Chips – No explanation required!
How to Make Congo Squares
1. Preheat the oven and grease the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease the baking pan with butter or non-stick spray.
You can also line the pan with parchment paper for good measure. This will ensure the bars will lift right out of the pan.
2. Combine the sugar, shortening, and eggs.
First, beat together the brown sugar and shortening until smooth and well combined.
Next, add the eggs.
Now, this part is super important: add the eggs one at a time, and beat the mixture for 3 minutes after each addition.
This is the secret step that’ll make the squares extra light, so while it does take a while, don’t skip it.
3. Sift the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sifting is important to keep the batter from being lumpy.
Also, while you can directly pour the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture, it’s safer to sift and combine them in a separate bowl.
This step helps prevent overmixing and lumps in the batter.
4. Combine the dry ingredients and sugar mixture.
Gently mix and stop just until well combined.
I don’t suggest using a hand mixer here because you’ll risk overmixing the batter, which will result in dry Congo squares.
Use a rubber spatula instead and stop mixing once you no longer see streaks of flour.
Lastly, gently mix in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
Spoon the batter into the greased or lined baking pan and bake for 28 minutes, no more, no less.
You want it to still be gooey in the middle because it’ll continue to cook in the pan as it cools.
6. Slice, serve, and enjoy.
Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes. Once it’s cool enough to the touch, slice it into squares and serve. Enjoy!
Tips for the Best Congo Squares
- Measure the flour accurately. Using too much than what’s called for will yield dry or cakey Congo squares. Use a kitchen scale for best results.
- Use the spoon and level method to measure the flour if you don’t have a scale. Use a spoon to transfer the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife.
- Don’t scoop the flour with the measuring cup. This will yield more flour than required.
- Line the pan with parchment paper for easier release.
- You know it’s done when the edges have set while the center is still gooey. Don’t worry, it’ll continue to cook as it cools.
- If you notice the edges browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with foil.
- Let the Congo squares cool slightly before slicing. They’ll be too gooey when fresh off the oven.
While semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts are my go-to cookie and bar mix-ins, there’s always room for innovation.
Try these flavor variations and let me know how you like them!
- Nuts – Try hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, and macadamia. Toast them in a 350-degree oven for 5-8 minutes to bring out their flavors more.
- Chocolate Chips – Use dark, milk, or white, depending on how sweet you want your Congo squares to be.
- Other Mix-ins and Toppings – Sunflower seeds, crushed pretzels, M&Ms, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, etc.
How to Store Congo Squares
Place Congo squares in an air-tight container and store them at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week.
You can also keep them around longer by freezing them. Double wrap individual squares in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
This will keep them from developing freezer burn.
Place them in freezer-safe bags, label accordingly, and freeze. Congo squares will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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