So I’ve learned a few things this week — mostly about bar cookies with meringue and brown sugar on top.
First I re-discovered an old recipe called Halfway Cookies where you spread dough across a pan, press in some chocolate chips, then spread the top with a mixture of egg white and brown sugar. I made more than one batch of those cookies, experimenting with varying amounts of butter in the base, and decided that all the recipes were good but the ones with extra butter were better.
During Halfway Cookie research, I got sidetracked by it’s cousin-cookie, the Mud Hen Bar. I’d intended to make Betty’ recipe “Aunt Eva’s Mud Hen Bars“, but I decided to go off on my own and created a peanut butter version.
If you’re a peanut butter fan or bake for someone who is, you’ll like these. In fact, you might even want to throw a few peanut butter chips in with the chocolate chips for more peanut flavor. These are a little richer than regular Halfway Bars and have a bit of airiness from the marshmallows which melt and leave air pockets underneath the meringue. Overall, I think the peanut butter was a fun add-in but I’d be happy with regular Mud Hens too.
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup brown sugar (divided use)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, separated
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2.25 oz (spoon and sweep)
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square pan with foil and spray with baking spray or grease well and dust with flour.
- Mix together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar, vanilla and egg yolk. Add flour and stir just until mixed. Stir in the peanuts. Spread batter across bottom of prepared pan using wet fingers.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips and marshmallows evenly over the batter and press lightly.
- Beat the egg white until stiff and beat in the brown sugar. Spread egg white mixture over marshmallow mixture (I stopped about 1/4 inch from the edges of pan leaving edges uncovered) and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until meringue is brown.
- Cool in pan set on a wire rack for a few hours. Lift foil from pan and cut into squares. At this point, I recommend chilling the bars/squares for a while. They're easier to cut when cold, and should you decided to cut them into even smaller squares, it will be easier.
- Makes 16 squares (of which some will be crusty edges).