Kitchn Love Letters

My Go-To Comfort Dessert: Auntie Sherry’s Chocolate Bar Bars

published Oct 22, 2019
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Credit: Grace Elkus

When I need to satisfy a chocolate craving, a quick dessert will always win out over a fancy one. For me, it often comes down to a boxed brownie mix, a mug cake, or my Auntie Sherry’s chocolate bar bars.

How did these bars end up in the same category as a one-minute microwave cake? Because they’re practically as easy. You mix together a five-ingredient shortbread, layer it with Hershey bars, and bake until it’s lightly golden and crisp around the edges, but soft and pillowy in the center.

If you make these bars even once, you’ll understand why I turn to them so often. Here’s the story of the first time I tried them — and how to make them yourself.

Credit: Grace Elkus
Chocolate Bar Bars

A Brief History of Chocolate Bar Bars

I have my mom’s friend Sherry (who my sisters and I call Auntie Sherry) to thank for this treat (and, actually, for a lot of my go-to recipes). We used to go to her house in Cleveland every year for Thanksgiving, and these bars were a constant on the dessert table. I’m grateful for any taste of chocolate among all the pumpkin and apple pies, but especially when the chocolate is sandwiched in between layers of shortbread.

Luckily for us (and now, for all of you), my mom copied down Auntie Sherry’s recipe somewhere along the way. Even though we no longer make the annual trip to Cleveland, I can still enjoy this sweet, buttery treat. You can view the full recipe on my (now inactive) food blog, where my sister and I first shared it back in 2014, or follow the instructions below.

Credit: Grace Elkus

How to Make Auntie Sherry’s Chocolate Bar Bars

You’ll start by creaming together 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. You want the butter to be softened slightly, so let it sit out on the counter for a bit before you start, but it doesn’t need to be spreadable. When the mixture is fluffy, add 1 large egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat until combined. Slowly add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon fine salt. Beat just until the dough comes together.

Press half the dough into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, then cover with a layer of full-sized Hershey bars (you’ll need about seven). Pat the remaining dough over the bars. I find it’s easiest to use my hands or a small offset spatula for this part — it will be a thin layer, but will puff up in the oven. Bake at 350°F until the edges are golden-brown and the top remains light, 25 to 30 minutes. Slice them into squares while they’re still warm.

Note: I recently noticed the recipe card says to make ridges in the dough with a fork, but I’ve always skipped that step (oops!) and they turn out just fine.

Credit: Grace Elkus

Now dig in. You’ll notice the chocolate doesn’t fully melt, but rather softens slightly, sort of like when you make a s’more and the heat of the marshmallow starts to soften the chocolate. It’s fantastic with the slightly crisp and salty layers of shortbread. There’s something about the simplicity of plain milk chocolate and classic shortbread that I really love, but feel free to experiment — go ahead and layer any type of chocolate bar into this dessert. In fact, it’s the perfect recipe for using up leftover Halloween candy.

So make these bars next time you’re craving chocolate, or if you need an easy dessert when entertaining friends. As one commenter on my blog said, they’re “virtually effortless.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.