Home Desserts Congo Squares (Old-Fashioned Recipe)

Congo Squares (Old-Fashioned Recipe)

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.

congo squares
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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.

Congo squares ingredients

Ingredients

Here’s everything you’ll need for this tasty treat. 

  • 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!
Congo Squares with Nuts and Chocolate Chips

How to Make Congo Squares

1. PREP: Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a baking pan with butter or non-stick spray. Line with parchment and set aside.

2. BEAT: Combine the brown sugar and shortening until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. SIFT: In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then gently mix into the sugar mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined.

4. FOLD in walnuts and chocolate chips and transfer the batter to the pan.

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5. BAKE: Bake for 25-30 minutes, then cool in the pan before slicing. Enjoy!

Chewy Congo Squares

Tips for the Best Congo Squares

Check out these quick tips and tricks for the most gooey and delicious 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.
  • Always line your pan. These bars love sticking to everything. For easy cutting, line the pan with parchment paper. You’ll thank me later. 
  • Don’t overbake! 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.
  • Avoid overbrowning. If you notice the edges browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with foil. 
  • Allow them to cool. I know it’s tempting to dig in, but avoid that urge! Let the Congo squares cool slightly before slicing. They’ll be too gooey when fresh off the oven.

Flavor Variations

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.
Congo Square Sliced

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.

More Bar Dessert You’ll Love

Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

Hello Dolly Bars

Slutty Brownies

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Congo Squares (Old-Fashioned Recipe)

Servings

24

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calories

305

kcal

This recipe for Congo squares will make you feel like a kid again! Learn how to make these tasty chocolate chip cookie bars, and get ready to be impressed!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup shortening (or butter)

  • 1 pound packed light brown sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray or butter.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and brown sugar at medium speed until smooth. Add in the eggs, one by one, and beat for 3 minutes after each addition, then mix in the vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the bowl of sugar mixture and gently mix to combine. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Spoon the dough into the greased pan. Bake for 28 minutes. Once it’s cool enough to the touch, slice it into squares. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Spoon and level the flour to avoid using too much – spoon the flour into the measuring cup then level it off with a knife.

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

6 thoughts on “Congo Squares (Old-Fashioned Recipe)”

    • Hi Michael, you are welcome to substitute another type of nut, or you can just leave out the walnuts altogether! They’ll still be good.

      Reply
  1. I have this same recipe from my Grandma, I hadn’t made it in years. I followed the recipe and unfortunately they were not good. Terribly dry and dense. I asked my Son in law who used to be a Chef about what I could have done wrong, he told me that modern day Crisco (what I had used for shortening) isn’t the same as it was back when this recipe was written, the transfats have been removed/reduced- so likely the cause.

    Reply
    • Hi Lynn!
      Sorry to hear these didn’t work out for you.

      Congo bars are supposed to be dense and chewy, like a blondie or cookie bar.

      As for the dryness, my guess would be 1 of the following:

      1. The oven temp was too high – I have a thermometer in there to make sure it’s accurate.
      2. They were baked for too long – it can be hard to tell when the middle is ready, but they should look slightly underbaked for the best texture. Check them after 25 minutes to be safe.
      3. The flour was packed too tight – use the spoon and level method to avoid getting too much.
      4. Overmixing after adding the dry ingredients – it needs to be stirred gently until just combined.

      You’re right about the shortening, though. So if you want to try the recipe again, I’d recommend using butter instead!

      Reply

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