A family-favorite, easy dessert: Congo Bars

Growing up, my mother baked all the time. We always had cookies or bars or some other sweet treat in the house. When you ask my friends from home what they remember about me, they say, “Congo Bars!” which was our favorite treat, and most likely to be served at any and all gatherings. Today, my kids request Congo Bars just as often as I did, and their grandmother never says no.

The term “congo bar” means different things to different people; to my husband, it means a blond brownie with walnuts added, but I claim that’s just a West Coast definition. In my East Coast house, a congo bar is basically a chocolate chip cookie in bar form, but much more ooey, gooey and delicious. Here’s how my family makes it.


3 1/2 c. flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 c. shortening

2 c. brown sugar (packed)

3 eggs

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or a full 12 oz. bag)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Melt the shortening in a small pan. Measure the brown sugar into a large bowl and pour the melted shortening over it. Beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients slowly and mix to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the dough into the prepared 9×13 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting… if you can wait that long. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.


  • This recipe is best if you undercook the bars just a little bit. If you bake it until the edges are dark brown, the bars will dry out quickly.
  • You can purchase Crisco (my shortening of choice) in 1 cup baking sticks, which makes it much easier to measure out. I have used organic, all vegetable shortening in the past — it works just fine, but I prefer Crisco.
  • After the bars cool, pop one into the microwave for just 6 seconds to get that just-out-of-the-oven taste back.
  • These bars freeze well after they’re baked, so eat a few now and freeze the rest for another day when you’re craving some chocolatey goodness!

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