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Mud Hen Bars

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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.

Hand holding mud hen bar with cookie base topped with brown sugar meringue and chocolate chips.

Paula’s mud hen bars are a fabulous way to satisfy your sweet tooth. The layers of goodness 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.

Stack of layered chocolate chip mud hen bars with golden meringue on top.

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.

Mud hen bars cut into square and ready to eat.

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 Chocolate Chip Meringue 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.

Bowl of meringue with brown sugar mixed in.

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.

Once your meringue is spread over the cookies, 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 stored at room temperature for several days.

More great dessert bars

The recipe for toffee 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.

Hand holding mud hen bar with cookie crust and chocolate chip meringue topping.

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. Caramelitas 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.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

Hand holding mud hen bar with cookie base topped with brown sugar meringue and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Bars

Servings: 16 Bars
Author: Carlee
Chocolate chip meringue bars, or 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.
4.85 from 32 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


Cookie Bars

  • ¾ cup butter softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch pan.
  • Cream together butter, brown sugar, and sugar.
    ¾ cup butter, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Add cold water, and vanilla, stirring to combines.
    1 Tablespoon cold water, 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Add flour, salt, and baking soda, mix until incorporated.
    2 cups all purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Press into prepared pan.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips over the cookie dough.
    12 oz chocolate chips
  • Whip egg whites to medium peaks, then slowly start to add remaining cup of brown sugar while mixing until the sugar is completely incorporated.
    2 egg whites, 1 cup light brown sugar
  • Spread meringue mixture over cookie dough and chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 28-35 minutes.
  • Cool completely before cutting and serving.



Serving: 1pieceCalories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 3gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 195mgFiber: 2gSugar: 35g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.85 from 32 votes (31 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Tuesday 2nd of July 2024

these look yummy

Fran rizzi

Wednesday 9th of November 2022

These are almost identical to my mothers “ chocolate delight bars”! Only the egg white doesn’t get beaten stiff, and there are chopped walnuts in the egg layer


Wednesday 9th of November 2022

Your mother's chocolate delight bars do sound like a delight!

Donna A Pollock

Sunday 29th of May 2022

I can't wait to try these cookie bars....they look so delicious.


Sunday 29th of May 2022

I hope you enjoy them!


Sunday 29th of May 2022

I think you got a winner here and I love the name. I wouldn’t change a thing. Good job you !


Sunday 29th of May 2022

Thank you!

Karen @karenskitchenstories

Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

These sound amazing!!! So unique with that meringue topping. I totally need to try these.


Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

You should, they are really tasty!