SIZZLE SIMMER SAUTÉ–Ho! Ho! Holiday Cookie Bars

Jennifer Alexander Ruple

Check out all of my recipes from The Sylvania AdVantage HERE.

The holidays are upon us, and I’m finding it hard to believe this is my final column for 2021. I’ve baked many cookies for my finale over the years, and this year is no different except that I’m presenting them in bar form. 

Cookie bars are fun and simple to make, often taking less time than traditional cookies. They are perfect for sharing and easy to transport to holiday parties, school or the office. You won’t want to miss Gingerbread Cookie Bars with mouthwatering cream cheese frosting, Fancy Chocolate Chip Bars and Fudgy Brownie Tree Bars. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and supporting my cooking adventures. It means the world to me when you stop me along the sidewalk or in a store to tell me you’ve read, saved, or tried a recipe I’ve shared. Happy holidays from my kitchen to yours. 

Gingerbread Cookie Bars

Calling all gingerbread aficionados! If you love the sweet and spicy flavors in gingerbread cookies and cakes, you will adore them in bars. Plus, the 1/2-inch-thick cream cheese frosting takes them over the edge. Servings: 24 bars

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Holiday sprinkles 

Heat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and molasses until light and airy, about 4-5 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and begin to combine. Add in milk and start mixing again. Add in the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

With a spatula, spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare cream cheese frosting by creaming together butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar (one cup at a time) and vanilla extract. Mix until light and fluffy.

Once bars have cooled completely, frost. Then shake on sprinkles. For extra smooth-cut edges, pop the pan into the refrigerator for an hour or so, then cut bars into squares and serve. 

(Recipe adapted from

Extra Fancy Cookie Bars

Put a holiday spin on traditional chocolate chip cookie bars. These buttery bars get all dressed up for the party with the addition of red and green M&M’s and sprinkles. Servings: 24 bars

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of red and green M&M’s
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 red and green sprinkles 

Heat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. 

In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. 

Fold in about 3/4 of the M&M’s, chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Press dough into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining M&M’s, chocolate chips and sprinkles, pressing them down slightly into the dough.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are light brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

(Recipe adapted from

Fudgy Brownie Tree Bars

I utilized my go-to brownie recipe for this dessert. The decorating is more of a concept rather than an exact recipe. Once brownies are baked and have cooled completely, cut out as many triangles as you can (I was able to get six from an 8 x 8-inch pan). Trim trees with ready-made cookie icing and sprinkles. For the tree trunks, break candy canes and carefully insert them into bottoms of the triangles. Servings will vary.

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, still warm
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 F. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, combine granulated sugar and warm butter. Stir briefly then allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. The heat from the butter will begin to dissolve the sugar helping to

make a shiny/crackly crust. After 5 minutes, whisk the butter and sugar vigorously for 30 seconds. Add eggs, water and vanilla, whisking again for 30 seconds. 

Sprinkle cocoa powder, powdered sugar, flour, chocolate chips and salt over wet ingredients. Stir mixture until it is glossy and well combined. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. 

(Recipe adapted from

Leave a Reply