Recipe Rescue: Help for Underbaked Bar Cookies?

We love a gooey center to our cookies and bars, and our obsession occasionally leads us into a batch or two that can only be called underbaked. Even UNbaked! We're always loath to toss a whole pan of goodies in the trash, so we wonder if there's anything we could do to save them. Any suggestions?

This happened recently to another reader Wendy who wrote:

I made some molasses bars the day before yesterday, and undercooked them. Things usually take longer in my apartment oven, so I kept checking on them and took them out when the top was a nice caramel brown color and the edges looked like if they cooked longer they'd be overdone. Yeah, I need a better oven, but it is what it is.

Now we've eaten around the edges (and they're yummy!) but the middle is way too undercooked for my taste. Can I put the middle section back in the oven to salvage them? At what temp (the original baking temp was 375) and for how long?

We've thought about this problem every which way, and unfortunately, we don't think re-baking would work. The problem is that the baking soda or powder in the recipe was probably activated and used up during the first cooking, so there's nothing left to leaven the bars a second time. Re-baking will give us hard, brick-like cookies and bars.

The other concern is the eggs. If the bars are so underbaked that the eggs are still raw, it's probably not a good idea to eat or even try to re-bake them if the bars have been sitting out for very long. We're usually proponents of eating your mistakes, but in this case, it's probably best to toss the batch rather than risk food poisoning!

It's probably best to chalk a batch of seriously underbaked bars or cookies up to experience. Each time we make a recipe, we tweak it and get a little bit closer to our ideal. We hate seeing a batch go in the trash as much as the next person, but sometimes a recipe just can't be saved!

Do any of you see a way to salvage underbaked bars and cookies?

Related: How to Tell When a Cake is Finished Baking - Cookies and Bars, Too!

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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