Are you someone who always chooses vanilla over chocolate? You will love these layered vanilla bars! With a mighty dousing of vanilla from bottom to top, these are the ultimate vanilla lovers' bars!
(This recipe was originally posted in 2017, then updated in 2021 and, most recently, in 2024 to add helpful tips and clarifications to recipe instructions. It's still the same recipe you know and love!)
Chocolate People Vs. Vanilla People
Most people can categorize themselves as a chocolate person or a vanilla person. I happen to be the latter. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate. Like, I really really love chocolate. But if I'm faced with choosing between two desserts and one of them is vanilla and the other is chocolate, I'm gonna go for the vanilla option 8 out of 10 times.
So I created these cookie bars specifically for those who are just like me, those who have the same love affair with vanilla. These bars start with a vanilla-infused Nilla wafer crust topped with soft vanilla blondies. If that's not enough vanilla already, the blondies get sprinkled with big chunks of vanilla sandwich cookies, like Golden Oreos.
Ingredients Needed To Make Vanilla Bars
I recommend laying everything out (and even pre-measuring) so that when you're ready to start baking, you can just go go go!
- Vanilla Wafer Cookies: These classic round cookies form the foundation of our crust, providing a sweet vanilla kick to every bite. I used Nilla Wafers, but you can use any kind you like.
- Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and creaminess to both the crust and the blondie layer.
- Pure Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste: You can't have a vanilla lover's dream bar without vanilla! Using a high quality pure vanilla is key to packing the most flavor.
- Eggs: Acting as the binding agent in the blondie layer, eggs ensure a moist and cohesive texture throughout.
- White Sugar: I mean, these are sweet bars... ya gotta have sugar.
- Light Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar introduces a hint of molasses, enhancing the caramel notes in the blondie layer.
- All-Purpose Flour: Use the spoon and level method when measuring.
- Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the flavors, bringing out the sweetness and complexity in this delicious treat.
- Vanilla Baking Chips: These can be found in the baking aisle next to the chocolate chips... if you can't find true vanilla chip, use white chocolate chips instead.
- Golden Oreos or Vanilla Sandwich Cookies: Big ol' chunks of vanilla cream sandwich cookies sit atop the bars, adding crunch and even more vanilla flavor.
Want more vanilla goodness? Try this homemade vanilla pudding!
What Are the Layers In These Cookie Bars
The bottom of the pan of vanilla bars starts with a soft and buttery vanilla wafer crust, and sets the stage for all the goodness to come.
The middle layer, which is basically a blondie, is moist, buttery, and sweet. It's a mix of vanilla goodness, sugars, and eggs, with surprises of vanilla chips. Baked to a golden perfection, each bite promises a satisfying mix of flavors and textures. On top of the blondie batter, large pieces of Golden Oreos (or any vanilla creme sandwich cookie) are arranged. They get delightfully toasty in the oven.
Then the whole thing gets a drizzle of melted vanilla chips. I like to bake vanilla cookie bars until they are juuuust barely done so that they stay nice and soft in the center. There's a super thin golden crust that forms on the top of the melt-in-your-mouth blondie center, and then at the bottom you have that sweet vanilla wafer crust. Are you drooling yet?
Ready to get baking?
Storage and Freezer Instructions
- Room Temperature: Store the vanilla bars in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Beyond this time, the texture may start to change, and the bars could lose some of their freshness.
- Refrigerator: For longer storage, place the bars in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Keep in mind that refrigeration may alter the texture slightly, but the flavor will remain delicious. Let them come to room temperature before enjoying for best results.
- Freezer: For extended storage, wrap the vanilla bars tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, place them in a freezer-safe container, and store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Thaw on the countertop before enjoying.
- Layer Separation: If stacking multiple layers of bars, consider placing sheets of parchment paper between the layers to prevent sticking and preserve the appearance. Remember to allow the bars to cool completely before storing, and always use airtight containers or wrapping to prevent them from drying out or absorbing odors from the fridge or freezer.
Need something lighter? Try my double vanilla meringues!
- Nutty Crunch: Infuse some crunch by incorporating chopped nuts, such as pecans or almonds, into the blondie layer.
- Chocolate Lover's Dream: Indulge your chocolate cravings by mixing dark or milk chocolate chips into the blondie batter or swapping vanilla chips with chocolate chips.
- Citrus Zest: Add a zesty twist by including the zest of oranges, lemons, or limes into the blondie batter for a refreshing and aromatic flavor.
- Caramel Drizzle: Amp up the indulgence with a decadent touch—drizzle caramel sauce over the cooled bars.
- Toffee Crunch: Introduce a sweet and buttery flavor by mixing toffee bits into the blondie batter.
- Peanut Butter Bliss: Achieve a nutty and creamy variation by swirling peanut butter into the blondie layer or adding peanut butter chips.
- Coconut Paradise: Try mixing shredded coconut into the blondie layer and topping it with a coconut glaze.
Vanilla lovers rejoice - this cookie bar was made specifically and especially for you! Enjoy!Print
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Are there any gluten-free alternatives for the all-purpose flour in the blondie layer? A: Explore gluten-free flour options, such as almond flour or a gluten-free baking blend, to accommodate dietary preferences or restrictions.
- Q: Can I replace the vanilla chips with a different type of baking chip? A: Experiment with various baking chips like butterscotch, dark chocolate, or even mint to personalize the flavor profile of the bars.
- Q: Is there a recommended method for storing leftovers to maintain freshness? A: Ensure the bars stay fresh by storing them in an airtight container at room temperature for short-term consumption or in the refrigerator for longer periods. Discover the best storage practices to enjoy these treats at their best.