Below is a family recipe that we made every year while I was growing up. We have perfected it over the years. It actually started out as a mistake. My mom was working from a recipe she found in a magazine article, and accidentally turned the oven on to the wrong temperature (250º instead of 350º). She kept checking on it and it just didn’t look done yet. Finally, after two hours, she pulled it out of the oven – and it came out even better than the original recipe. So we adopted that change and now we have ooey, gooey, caramelized German Chocolate Cookie Bars every year. They are so simple to make and I am often asked for the recipe. It’s one of the easiest, tastiest recipes you’ll ever make. You don’t even need measuring cups, so if you think you are baking incompetent, give this one a shot!
German Chocolate Cookie Bars
Prep time: 15 min (5 active); bake time: 2 hrs
- Butter (you’ll need 1 stick)
- 1 Chocolate cake mix, your choice
- 1 bag chocolate chips, semi-sweet or dark chocolate
- 1 bag mini marshmallows
- 1 bag dried, flaked coconut
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- Parchment paper
Turn your oven to 250º (F).
Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. You will want it to be wide enough and long enough to cover the sides of the pan, as well. To help it lay flat, you can fold down the edges. Pop them back up and place a stick of butter in the pan. Toss this into the oven and the butter can melt while the oven warms up and you grab your other ingredients. Because the oven is at a low temperature, it will take about 10 minutes or so for the butter to melt (I got all the rest of the ingredients out, took my 3-year-old to the potty, changed the laundry, and blew some raspberries with the baby. This recipe is a great multi-tasker).
Once the butter has melted, pull the pan out of the oven (be sure to use oven mitts!) and place it on a heat-safe surface. Tip the pan in every direction to make sure the butter has covered the entire bottom. Set it down and grab the cake mix.
Drop cake mix over the top of the butter. Press the cake mix down with a plastic spatula, making it level. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Next, put a layer of chocolate chips on top. I used an entire 10 oz bag of dark chocolate chips; if you’re not a huge fan of chocolate, use less. Try to spread them evenly, but again, it need not be perfect.
The next layer is marshmallows. About half of a bag will do it.
Next, add a layer of coconut, to your taste. A cup or so will do; add more if you really love coconut.
Open your can of condensed milk and pour it over the top, as evenly as you can.
Put the pan in the oven, set your timer for two hours and walk away! Now’s a great time to work on some of those no-bake recipes you’ve been meaning to get around to. You might try Rum Balls or Chunky Peppermint Bark.
When your timer goes off, check to see if the top is nicely browned and caramelized. If it’s not, leave it in a bit longer. If it is, pull it out and set it out to cool for a couple of hours.
When it’s cooled, toss it in the freezer. This sounds crazy, but this will make it easier to cut. I’ve left it overnight before, so it’s okay if you forget about it for a while.
Remove from freezer. Remove from the pan by lifting up the parchment. Peel off parchment and place on a cutting board. Let thaw for about 20 minutes. Cut into small squares (1 in or so – they’re very rich, so smaller is better) with a very sharp knife. Store on layers of parchment in a tin in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for a good while, but I’ m not sure how long because they don’t last in my house!