If you like chocolate chip cookies, you’re going to LOVE this recipe for espresso & dark chocolate chip cookie bars. We’ll update the timeless, classic treat with luscious dark chocolate chips and a hint of espresso. Then, we’ll top the whole thing off with a sweet and smooth bourbon buttercream. It’s everyone’s most-loved chocolate chip cookie—but, on a level fit for 2022.
Plus, in this tutorial, I’ll share with you how to create an ultra-smooth finish with the buttercream, and share my method for adorning the cookies with bright and beautiful buttercream flowers.
If these espresso and dark chocolate chip cookie bars look familiar, you have a great eye! The recipe is very similar to one I developed last summer: Smooth-Top Buttercream Frosted Cookie Bars. These delicious little bites were so popular that I decided to reinvent the flavors a bit and, well, it was a hit—again!
So, let’s get baking!
Updated 8/2022 for better quality.
How To Make Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Bourbon Buttercream
First, read through the lists of ingredients and materials to make sure you have everything needed for this baking project. I included links (affiliate) to some of my favorite products! Then, you’ll find detailed instructions for decorating and the main recipe near the bottom of this post. Happy baking!
Baking & Decorating Materials List
- Brown sugar
- White sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Instant espresso powder
- Dark chocolate chips
- Bourbon cream (you can use heavy cream if you don’t drink bourbon)
- 9″ x 13″ baking pan
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowls of varying sizes
- Stand mixer
- Oven mitts
- Wire cooling rack
- Square or circle cookie cutters
- Food coloring gels
- Offset spatula
- Piping bags, piping tips, flower nails, and couplers (it’s helpful to purchase a starter kit like this one if you don’t have any of these items yet)
- Edible gold leaf (optional; this is the gold leaf I used)
- Food-safe paint brushes
How To Decorate Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Step One: First, use the cookie cutter to stamp out the cookie bars and to act as a guide while frosting them. Simply place the cookie cutter back over the cut cookie, positioning it to hang over the top of the cookie by a few millimeters. Then, apply quite a bit of buttercream inside the cookie cutter, and use the edge of your spatula to scrape off the excess. Watch this quick Reel to see the steps in real-time, and, if you’d like more instructions, check out the written steps, here.
Step Two: Chill the cookies in the refrigerator to set the buttercream.
Step Three: Next, cut your parchment paper into small squares, about 2″ by 2″ each. Then, use a bit of extra buttercream to affix a parchment paper square to the flower nail. Fit a piping bag with a piping tip of your choosing, fill the bag with some buttercream, and pipe your flowers!
Since buttercream flower piping can seem intimidating, I have written a few tutorials on the subject:
- How-to flower piping basics: check out my detailed tutorial and video here.
- To learn which tips to use to create mums, sunflowers, and other fall florals, check out my tutorial and tip charts here.
- How to pipe roses, cacti, succulents, and other desert-themed flower shapes: check out my tutorial and tip chart here.
I’ll also be adding Reels to my Instagram shortly of each flower featured in these Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. So, if you’d like to see those, be sure to follow me there!
Next, after your buttercream flowers have had time to firm up in the freezer, carefully apply them to your cookie bars using a bit of extra buttercream as “glue.”
Step Four: Finally, add some edible sparkle! Working with edible gold or silver foil is a little tricky, but not too hard! Just keep in mind that the edible leaf is so, SO thin, and sticks to just about everything. Don’t try to pick up a piece with your fingers!
Rather, very carefully peel back the protective paper so that just a small corner of edible foil peaks out. Hold your finger down on the protective paper to secure the larger part of the foil inside the paper.
Then, dab at the corner of the gold foil with an edible paintbrush to pick it up. You don’t need to wet the paintbrush at all—it will grab on just fine. Carefully and slowly (air movement can crumple the gold foil beyond use) place the foil onto your cookie and press it down gently.
Again, I want to reiterate how delicate the foil is—even a tiny breath of air can cause the foil to move and crumple up. Thus, whenever you’re not using the foil, make sure to lay the protective paper over it again.
Storage: You can keep your buttercream cookies in an airtight container for 2 days at room temperature. Buttercream keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator, but the cookies will start to dry out, so I’d recommend making and consuming the chocolate chip cookie bars within a few days.
Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Bourbon Buttercream—RECIPE
Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Bourbon Buttercream
Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- 1 cup room temperature butter
- 1¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 room temperature eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
- 1½ cup room temperature butter
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp Bourbon cream (or heavy cream)
Espresso & Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 9"x13" baking pan with parchment paper.
- Beat together the sugars with the butter for about a minute, or until the mixture is fluffy. Then, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and espresso powder.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Then, add the dry mixture to the wet and mix with a spatula or spoon until combined. The dough will be thick, but a little muscle work will do the job.
- Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan and press it down until it's evenly spread. Try to make the edges, corners, and center as smooth as possible.
- Bake the cookie bars for 22-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and set. Let the bars cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, before using the parchment paper to carefully lift the bars out and onto the wire rack. Cool fully before decorating.
- With the whisk attachment, beat the butter for a minute until it starts to visually lighten in color.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, scraping the bowl and mixing thoroughly in between each addition, for about a minute or so each time.
- After you've mixed in all of the sugar, add the vanilla and Bourbon cream. Turn the mixer to high and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- Finally, switch from the whisk to the paddle/scraper attachment and turn the speed to the lowest setting. Mix for up to ten minutes, or until the buttercream is smooth and most of the bubbles have disappeared. Separate into smaller bowls and color with the food coloring gels as needed.
Mangiamo! (That means, “Let’s eat!”)
I hope you enjoy these cookie bars as much as I do! This recipe is a great showstopper that makes a good alternative to regular cakes or cupcakes. Plus, you can decorate them any way you’d like—keep ’em very simple or go all-out!
Don’t forget to check out my other recipes like this one:
- These classic, smooth-top buttercream cookie bars were the inspiration behind it all—especially good for younger crowds, or those who don’t love bourbon!
- Pumpkin butter cake cookies (or, “cakies” as I like to call them) are super crave-worthy all year-’round.
- In my most popular tutorial, you’ll learn how to bake and ice beautiful royal-icing decorated sugar cookies.
Let’s keep in touch! To find out when I post a new tutorial like this one, follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my email newsletter below! (I don’t always share the same content on IG as I do in my newsletter, so I’d recommend connecting with me on both to ensure you don’t miss out!)
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below. And, if you enjoyed these cookie bars, please consider leaving a star rating! I appreciate it more than you know!
’til next time—xoxo