Cookie Cake Bars have quickly become one of my favorite treats to bake. It’s probably because I don’t have to choose between the two treats being that I can have them both together! But I ran into a little problem with these Spicy Chocolate Cookie Cake Bars. The problem is that they tasted more like a rich BROWNIE…aye caramba!
As a matter of fact, my family kept referring to them as brownies, and of course, me being the maker of these tasty little nuggets, politely reiterated they weren’t. After the 100th time, I gave up and let them call ’em whatever they wanted.
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My kids were away for a weekend a while back and when they came home, they brought back a few little treats from their getaway. One of treats was from a bakery and it was a chocolate brownie square that had habanero infused sugar sprinkled over it. It was absolutely delicious. The chocolate taste was up front and center but then after a minute or so, you’d feel and taste a little heat behind it.
It was … impressive. That’s when I came up with these Spicy Chocolate Cookie Cake Bars. I mixed and mingled a chocolate fudge cake mix with the contents of a chocolate cookie package. Then … I added some Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate and my oh my, it saturated my chocolate craving! Plus, I omitted using frosting on these. Instead, a light dusting of a powdered sugar blend suited just fine. If you remember, I used a Cream Cheese Frosting in my Confetti Sprinkled Cookie Cake Bars a couple of months ago so take a minute to peruse that recipe for a different take on Cookie Cake Bars.
Adding Spicy Heat
Living in deep south Texas, it’s customary to eat hot and spicy foods. The kind of flavoring that makes you sweat. That’s not us. We love a little heat but that’s where it ends. When making this recipe, I wanted a mild burn … one that would have you coming back for more.
Since infusing sugar takes a while, I opted to use Cayenne Pepper as that’s what I had readily available. Please feel free to adjust the amount of pepper you use in this recipe. If you can handle the heat then by all means, sprinkle away to your hearts content. If you have little ones, keep it light or omit it altogether. Or … sprinkle it on only half the pan and leave the rest free of it 🙂
Those little orange-y crystal specks you see in the picture above is the Cayenne Pepper. Notice it is lightly sprinkled over the dough. Mmm, just enough to dazzle your palate! Either way you choose to go, it’ll be pretty fantastic and if your hand gets a little heavy during the sprinkling, take it down with a tall glass of cold milk to cool the burn.
A word of caution … they are addictive. It’s rich in flavor and has a tender crumble. Imagine holding one in your hand and having to be careful not to squish it all up but at the same time, portions of it are just waiting to fall apart. Then you bite into a chocolate chip. It adds another layer of decadence. Feel that little tingle on the rim of your lip? That’s the heat of the cayenne pepper crawling up to remind you that this is no ordinary treat. It’s blissful. A perfect way to impress your taste buds as well as your picnic or bbq guests. Make them. You’ll be glad you did.
Spicy Chocolate Cookie Cake Bars
Spicy Chocolate Cookie Cake Bars are not only rich and decadent, they bring a mild heat that commands your attention. Rich in chocolate flavor with a tender crumble make these little bars a party favorite.
- 1 box Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
- 1 17.5 oz pkg Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix
- 1/2 cup Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix (I used Abuelita)
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tbsp Espresso Coffee Powder (Instant)
- 1/4 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips/Chunks
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 13 tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
- 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
- Cayenne Pepper - for Sprinkling
- 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix
- 1 pinch Cayenne Pepper - optional
Preheat oven to 350 (F) degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine cake and cookie dry mixes. Add Mexican hot chocolate dry mix, salt, baking powder, chocolate chips and espresso. Stir to combine well. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add cooled melted butter and continue mixing and scraping bowl until thoroughly combined.
Using a silicone spatula, add dry ingredients. Mix quickly and carefully until dough forms. Do not over mix.
Transfer dough to prepared pan, smooth top. Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper* on top and bake approximately 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes in pan, then transfer with parchment paper to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars**.
Combine ingredients, breaking up any clumps with the back of a spoon. Once bars are cooled and cut, use a small sieve to dust over bars. Enjoy.
*Sprinkling Cayenne Pepper: Sprinkle desired amount on top of the pre-baked dough. This will help adhere it as it bakes. Use as much or as little as you see fit.
**Cutting Bars: To get clean bars/squares, use a damp, warm towel to clean the knife between cuts.
By way of reminder, #CookoutWeek is still going and so is the Fantastic Prize Pack Giveaway! Over 50 of my food blogging friends are sharing their favorite grilling recipes along with other delicious dishes that are perfect for your next family BBQ get together. I’ve shared some of their recipe links at the bottom of this post for convenience and easy access. And … don’t forget to enter the giveaway! It’s a whopper of a prize pack 😉