Mud hen bars are built on a shortbread style cookie crust topped with chocolate chips and brown sugar meringue. The results are a delicious dessert that has the perfect combination of flavors and textures.
These yummy bars are a fabulous way to satisfy your sweet tooth. The layers come together to make a great treat for family gatherings, carry-ins and more.
My mom has been going through her recipes and stumbled upon a handwritten recipe card from when I was a kid. It was given to her by one of my dance friend’s mom.
Apparently they used to take turns driving us to dance and the mother who wasn’t driving cooked dinner for both families. I don’t remember that, but I started dancing at the age of three so my memory of that time period is a little fuzzy.
Either way, the recipe card called them chocolate chip bars but I believe they are more commonly known as mud hen bars. Though after a little looking, it seems like mud hen bars might include marshmallows so perhaps these are a cousin.
If you know the hard and fast rules for mud hens, please let me know. I am open to naming suggestions if needed, let me know if you have strong opinions in the comments.
I have tough-ish skin so tell me all about it. I will try not to take it personally!
Making the bars
The shortbread crust layer comes together pretty easily. The recipe card called for shortening but I used softened butter instead.
You cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add a little bit of water and vanilla and mix well.
A bit of flour, salt and baking soda rounds out the dough. It will likely look a little bit crumbly, but that is ok.
It should hold together when you press it into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Then the recipe called for sprinkling chocolate chips over the top, but I am going to diverge a bit from the recipe here.
Next whip egg whites to soft peaks and slowly add in brown sugar while continuing to beat the meringue. The final step before baking is to spread the egg white mixture over the chocolate chips and cookie dough.
Of course if the chocolate chips are sitting loose on top of the dough, they are going to want to move as you spread the meringue. So I think I’ll fold them into the meringue next time and spread it all at once.
Now it is time to bake the bars. The meringue will get golden and dry out some while the cookie sets.
I was able to pop the bars out of the pan to cut, but you can also cut them in the pan if you prefer. They can be stores at room temperature for several days.
More great dessert bars
The recipe for toffee cookie bars comes straight from my grandma’s recipe box. They are a simple brown sugar cookie bar topped with chocolate and optionally pecans for a easy and tasty dessert.
Funfetti sugar cookie bars are soft, delicious and covered in sprinkle filled buttercream. Plus when you bake cookies as bars, it makes everything so quick and easy with no chilling of the dough or rotating trays of cookies through the oven.
Soft flavorful gingerbread cookie bars are a quick and easy way to make frosted festive treats. Cut them into squares as a much easier alternative to cut out cookies for your holiday treat trays.
Layers of buttery oatmeal cookie sandwich a layer of caramel and chocolate chips. Caramelette bars are a must have for any time your sweet tooth begs for something special.
Or for a 5 ingredient treat, try making old fashioned graham cracker cookie bars. They come together in just a few minutes and taste amazing.
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Mud Hen Bars
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 1½ cup brown sugar divided
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 12 oz chocolate chips
- 2 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch pan.
- Cream together butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and sugar.
- Add cold water and vanilla, stirring to combines.
- Add flour, salt and baking soda, mix until incorporated.
- Press into prepared pan.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips over the cookie dough.
- Whip egg whites to medium peaks, then slowly start to add remaingin cup of brown sugar while mixing until the sugar is completely incorporated.
- Spread meringue mixture over cookie dough and chocolate chips.
- Bake for 28-35 minutes.
- Cool completely before cutting and serving.