The Best Cookies and Bars

A cookie by any other name is still a crowd-friendly finger food that's perfect for birthday parties, bake sales and everyday snacking.
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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Tara Donne

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Photo By: Marcus Tullis

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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Tara Donne

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Photo By: Tara Donne

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Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Blondies are great for those who prefer vanilla to chocolate, but the semisweet chocolate chunks are a welcome addition to these chewy, buttery bars. Chopped walnuts add just enough nutty flavor and texture to round out the cookies.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Compost Cookies

The Compost Cookie, invented by Pastry Chef Christina Tosi of New York City's Momofuku Milk Bar, has become an Internet sensation. The recipe is easy to alter, so borrow from the original (chocolate, honey-roasted peanuts, dried sour cherries, salted chips), or add your own sweet-and-savory mix-ins.

Get the Recipe: Compost Cookies

My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Instead of regular chocolate chips, Tyler Florence uses a block of dark chocolate that’s coarsely chopped before it’s mixed into this cookie batter.

Get the Recipe: My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jam-Filled Almond Macarons

These ethereal French sandwich cookies can be tinted any hue and filled with jam or apricot preserves, lemon curd or seedless jam — délicieux!

Get the Recipe: Jam-Filled Almond Macarons

Peanut Butter Cookies

Nancy Fuller works creamy peanut butter and brown sugar into a simple dough recipe to create the ultimate comfort cookies. Take your time when creaming the peanut butter, butter and shortening in your stand mixer. It takes about six minutes for the mixture to reach the desired level of fluffiness, which may seem like a while, but the results are well worth it.

Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter Cookies

Giant Chocolate Chip Party Cookie

At your next party, slice up this fun pizza-size cookie, fully loaded with candy and frosted with vanilla buttercream.

Get the Recipe: Giant Chocolate Chip Party Cookie

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

These spiced cookies get their crisp edges from rolling the dough in sugar before baking. To get the most out of your molasses, lightly coat your measuring cup with oil or cooking spray before measuring.

Get the Recipe: Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Lemon Squares

Pucker up for these seriously citrusy layered lemon bars, equally appealing to brighten up a winter’s day as they are on a picnic blanket in spring. If you’re packing them up to travel, hit them with the sugar once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Squares

Dutch Stroopwafels

Rest your stroopwafels on top of a cup of hot tea or coffee so the steam warms your cookie and softens the molasses-cinnamon filling. 

Get the Recipe: Dutch Stroopwafels

Mini Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookie with Maldon Sea Salt

The ground oats in this crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside cookie add interesting depth of flavor, while the use of sea salt and bittersweet chocolate creates nice sweet-and-salty contrast.

Blackberry-Pecan Linzer Cookies

Ordinary cookie cutters let you make these jewel-like Austrian cookies, with their shiny center and dusting of sugar.

Get the Recipe: Blackberry-Pecan Linzer Cookies

Chewy, Salty, Peanutty Caramel Brownies

These fudgy brownies were inspired by chocolate-covered salted caramels. Mixed with crunchy peanuts, these brownies taste like upscale homemade candy bars.

Get the Recipe: Chewy, Salty Peanutty Caramel Brownies

Tropical Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Studded with sweet chunks of dried fruit, these easy-to-make cookies are cakey and soft. They crisp up a day or two after baking, and the flavors of the spices and coconut permeate each bite.

Get the Recipe: Tropical Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Golden Rugelach

In these Jewish cookies, cream cheese dough is topped with apricot preserves, hazelnuts and raisins, then rolled, cut and baked for tender, flaky results.

Get the Recipe: Golden Rugelach

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

These bars are a sweeter, gooier, more lunchbox-friendly version of the classic sandwich. They'll hold up much better and much longer without the risk of soggy bread and unwanted crusts.

Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Molasses Cookies with Boiled Marshmallow Frosting

Soft and spicy molasses cookies are held together by a sweet dollop of marshmallow frosting in this tried-and-true cookie recipe from Nancy's family recipe book.

Get the Recipe: Grammy Carl's Rule For Molasses Cookies with Boiled Marshmallow Frosting

Apple Crumble Bars

Each tender cinnamon-laced and streusel-topped square offers all the flavors of an apple pie in every bite. Make a double batch of streusel topping and freeze the extra; next time you’re in the mood for crumble, it can be used over any sweetened fruit and baked straight from the freezer.

Get the Recipe: Apple Crumble Bars

Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

These easy cookies have a cakey texture and a deep, nutty flavor from the use of whole grains, which also gives them a rustic look. When they come out of the oven, they're soft. But they will crisp up nicely once they cool.

Get the Recipe: Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mocha Fudge Brownies

This recipe calls for just two squares of unsweetened chocolate, which yields a lighter-than-usual brownie. But don't worry: They satisfy a chocolate craving just as well as their cocoa-packed counterparts. Just add a touch of coffee when preparing the dough to heighten the intensity of the melted chocolate.

Get the Recipe: Mocha Fudge Brownies

Snack Bar Madness Chocolate Chip Cookies

These chewy cookies are endlessly customizable to suit your mood. Choose any combination of nuts, candy or dried fruit, or add potato chips for a salty finish that plays nicely with the other sweet ingredients.

Get the Recipe: Snack Bar Madness Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fudgy Brownies

Some like their brownies light and airy; others prefer them dense and fudgy. This recipe is for fans of the latter, as these brownies pack a rich, chocolatey punch. Add chopped nuts of your choosing to work crunchy texture throughout this fudgy treat.

Get the Recipe: Fudgy Brownies

Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

A blondie lover's dream, these bars are moist, dense and chewy. They're perfect for a bake sale or as a take-a-long treat. They can also be cut into 1-inch bites for a large party.

Get the Recipe: Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Maple Walnut Shortbread Bars

If you love shortbread, try repurposing the cookie dough for these sweet and buttery bars. They make a great alternative to a chocolate dessert.

Get the Recipe: Maple Walnut Shortbread Bars

New York Cheesecake Cookies

New York's signature dessert gets a welcome makeover in Sandra Lee's simple, bite-size take on a classic recipe. Before baking the cookies, use your thumb to create an indentation in the graham cracker dough, then spoon the sweet cream cheese mixture inside as you would with thumbprint cookies.

Get the Recipe: New York Cheesecake Cookies

Popcorn Sandwich Cookies with Salted Caramel

These portable treats are inspired by (and include) buttered popcorn, with a thick layer of simple salted caramel spread over the middle. Put the caramel for these cookies in a glass measuring cup to cool; if it gets too firm to spoon onto the cookies, microwave it for 30 seconds to soften it up. 

Get the Recipe: Popcorn Sandwich Cookies with Salted Caramel

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

A well-sifted boxed cake mix makes a handy dough for these red velvet cookies dressed in sugar, nonpareils and crushed nuts. 

Get the Recipe: Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Coconut-Apricot Macaroons

Easy-to-make coconut cookies build on tradition with a kiss of vanilla and an add-in of chopped apricots. The mixture is shaped into bite-size balls and baked until golden.

Get the Recipe: Coconut-Apricot Macaroons

White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These white chocolate and sprinkle-topped cookies are perfect for almost any occasion, and they're a hit with adults and kids alike.

Get the Recipe: White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Guilt, be gone: These tasty, tender treats, made with some whole-wheat pastry flour along with all-purpose flour, are filled with all of the deliciousness of chocolate chip cookies but with nourishment too.

Get the Recipe: Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Banana Sandwich Cookies

Banana cream plus fresh banana tucked inside twin layers of chocolate equals super flavor through and through. This dough does best when it's extra-cold. If it softens too much before baking, the cookies tend to spread and burn. Start with well-chilled dough and work quickly. Pop it back in the refrigerator to firm up if needed.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Banana Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate-Coconut Bars

Make these popular candylike bars between dinner and bedtime the night before the bake sale — they bake for only 30 minutes and then they cool overnight.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate-Coconut Bars

Almond and Raisin Biscotti

There’s no better way to end a meal than with these almond-studded Italian cookies dipped in espresso, tea or sweet wine. If you’re having trouble shaping the sticky dough, chill it instead of adding flour, as the sticky consistency is actually a sign that the biscotti will be light and crisp.

Get the Recipe: Almond and Raisin Biscotti

Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Peanut-Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies

What's the key to a creating a breakfast-appropriate cookie? Reduced sugar and oatmeal (for its fiber value). And as far chocolate goes, less is more.

Get the Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Peanut-Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies

Grown-Up Apricot Newtons

These tart-tasting bars are a much-improved version of the original sandwich cookies. The apricots are plumped and pureed for a richer fruit flavor, and the flecks of green pistachio throughout add crunch and color. A fluted pan makes for a beautiful presentation.

Get the Recipe: Grown-Up Apricot Newtons

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich

Just try and resist the beckoning of the freezer when these giant chocolate chip sandwiches are stashed inside. You can leave the ice cream sticking out a bit, or run an offset spatula around the edge for a more refined look.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich

Edible Gift Boxes

These little edible gift boxes can be made from sugar cookie, butter cookie or gingerbread dough. Pack them with truffles, candies or cookies, then give them to your favorite teacher or office mate. They also make great party favors.

Get the Recipe: Edible Gift Boxes

Dried Cherry, Macadamia and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chilling the dough for a longer period of time gives these cookies deep, rich flavor.

Get the Recipe: Dried Cherry, Macadamia and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut-Peanut Cookies: Galletas Maria (Costa Rica

Versions of these cookies — named for a grand duchess of Russia after her wedding — are popular all around the world, but especially so throughout Spain as well as South and Central America. Packaged versions tend to be more like biscuits; these are nutty and textured.

Get the Recipe: Coconut-Peanut Cookies: Galletas Maria (Costa Rica)

Walnut Cookies (Polvorones)

Whether you call them Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, kourambiedes or polvorones, no one will object to a plate of these melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

Get the Recipe: Walnut Cookies (Polvorones)

Coffee Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These cocoa cookies are spiked with three kinds of java — coffee liqueur, instant coffee and coffee beans — pumping up their store-bought-mix base in a flash. You can use packaged chocolate chunks, which hold their shape nicely, or you can chop your favorite bar into pieces and revel in the melty pockets of chocolate that result.

Get the Recipe: Coffee Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Platinum Blondies

Brownie who? These blondies will turn heads with sweet white chocolate, salty macadamia nuts and rich shredded coconut. Like any true blonde, these all-white bars have no dark roots to hide.

Get the Recipe: Platinum Blondies

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The addition of brown butter and coffee granules adds warm, nutty flavor to these cookies. Combine the dough with chopped pecans and coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate for great texture and flavor.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chinese Sesame Cookies

White and black sesame seeds (plus tahini in the dough) bring tons of sesame flavor to the table. If you can’t find black sesame seeds, just use regular white sesame seeds.

Get the Recipe: Chinese Sesame Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies

No gluten? No problem: These guys hit the spot. They have great flavor and texture in every gluten-free bite. If you're allergic to nuts, use 1/2 cup of sweet sorghum flour instead of almond flour and increase the butter to 1 1/2 sticks and the milk to 1/2 cup.

Get the Recipe: Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies

Maple Granola To-Go Breakfast Cookies

Have to eat on the go? Don’t rush, but don’t skip breakfast either — just take these handy granola bites with you for an energizing start to the day or as an afternoon snack.

Get the Recipe: Maple Granola To-Go Breakfast Cookies

Ginger Spice Cookies

Don't settle for store-bought ginger cookies when you can make them from scratch using real fresh ginger. The difference in flavor will be well worth the effort. How thin you roll these spicy cookies will depend on whether you prefer a thin, crisp cookie or a thicker, chewier one. 

Get the Recipe: Ginger Spice Cookies

Vegan Vanilla Cookies with Walnuts

Some of the ingredients in this vegan recipe may be unfamiliar, but putting them together is a no-brainer. Use the tried-and-true technique of alternating wet and dry ingredients in your mixing bowl. Tapioca flour helps with the chewy texture, and the xanthan gum replaces gluten as the stabilizer. Look for vegan-labeled sugar when you’re making these — regular sugar is often filtered with animal by-products.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Vanilla Cookies with Walnuts

Espresso Chocolate Chip Biscotti

These crisp, chocolate-studded biscotti are good the day you bake them, but they taste even better the next day. For a double coffee hit, serve with a coffee affogato, coffee ice cream or a shot of anise liqueur, like Sambuca.

Get the Recipe: Espresso Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Blueberry-Coconut Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast is one of the hardest meals to plan for when you're having overnight guests, who tend to get up at different times. Lay out these scrumptious breakfast cookies for a quick and tasty fix. If you bake them ahead, they'll be ready no matter what time your company wanders into the kitchen.

Get the Recipe: Blueberry-Coconut Breakfast Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Cookies

Less is more: These dairy- and egg-free cookies have everything you want in a cookie, without the stuff you don’t. And by mixing in a handful of nuts, or dried fruits, or a little spice, the variations are almost endless.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Cookies

Gluten-Free Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

These thin, chewy cookies use almond flour as their base. They are gluten-free, but they're great in their own right, and they stay moist for a long time (so they're a good make-ahead cookie). Once baked, they can be kept in the fridge for a week or stored in the freezer for a month.

Get the Recipe: Gluten-Free Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cookies

To upgrade these cookies, replace the vanilla extract with vanilla bean seeds — slice each vanilla pod lengthwise with the tip of a sharp knife, scrape out the tiny brown seeds, then add them to the cookie dough. Store the empty pods in sugar to make vanilla-scented sugar for coffee or tea.

Get the Recipe: Gluten-Free Vanilla Cookies

Apple-Cinnamon Breakfast Cookies

Save ooey-gooey chocolate cookies for the afternoon and reach for something less decadent in the morning. These deliciously spiced cookies packed with oats and sweet apples are just the solution.

Get the Recipe: Apple-Cinnamon Breakfast Cookies

Chocolate Message Cookies

You don't need to wait for a special occasion to surprise friends and family with these sweet heart-shaped cookies. Once they're cooled, decorate the cookies with pink buttercream, melted chocolate and stenciled letters. Then arrange them on a serving tray to spell out a personalized message.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Message Cookies

B and W Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Can't decide whether you prefer your shortbread pure or embellished? Now you don't have to choose: These cookies are half plain, half dipped in rich dark chocolate.

Get the Recipe: B and W Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Amaretti Cookies

These chewy chocolate cookies studded with slivered almonds are just the thing you'll want to accompany your after-dinner cup of coffee. Nut lovers will appreciate the sophisticated almond flavor, which is achieved by incorporating almond paste into the cookie dough.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Amaretti Cookies

Chocolate-Peppermint Pizzelle

What could be better than a crisp, chocolatey pizzelle? A pizzelle sandwich filled with smooth minty chocolate. These elegant cookies make a picture-perfect option for a holiday cookie swap, but don't hestitate to whip them up anytime of the year.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Pizzelle

Cranberry-Pecan Biscotti

Embrace the ease and convenience of this quick biscotti recipe, which calls for boxed corn muffin mix. Not only will you save a significant amount of time on preparing the dough, but you'll also introduce a fun new flavor — sweet corn — to this traditionally almond-flavored cookie.

Get the Recipe: Cranberry Pecan Biscotti

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

With decadent cream cheese frosting sandwiched in the middle, these easy-to-make whoopie pies are a hand-held treat perfect for red velvet lovers.

Get the Recipe: Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Butterscotch Blondies with Macadamia Nuts and Chocolate

Brown butter plays a supporting role in these chocolatey, nutty bars — but the pot in which you melt it does double duty as the dish's only mixing bowl too. As a result, this recipe calls for little more than just stirring and then spreading.

Get the Recipe: Butterscotch Blondies with Macadamia Nuts and Chocolate