These bars were my favorite childhood dessert.  I recently asked my mom for the recipe – but being that she is so neat and tidy (which is great), she often throws things away (not so great).  I suffer the same affliction at times.  Anyway, luckily my very good friend Michelle also loved these as a child (we were family friends so she was treated to my mom’s sweets).  And Michelle held onto the recipe!  It is a weird recipe and I had some doubts as I made them – but they were the same ones from my childhood.  I should tell you that these are very very sweet.  Not for the tame hearted sugar eaters here – but oh…for me – they are decadent and heavenly.  Rich and gooey.  I cut one up and put it in my vanilla ice cream last night and really, I felt so content.  My kids wouldn’t eat them the first night.  I said ok everyone – time for something new…my favorite… and I was met with groans of  “more dessert?”  And “can’t we just have a little candy tonight”  Oh boy.  The second night they tried it – and loved it – especially Sylvie and our neighbor Danika.  Greg said it tasted like cookie dough.  My friend Suzanne said a tiny square with her tea was all she could eat because she felt the sugar on her teeth (although she reported she’s excited to eat another small bite with lunch).  And her husband Jamie said yes, sweet, but good – and ate a hearty slice.  Again, this is not for everyone.

chocolate chip meringue bars:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar,  3/4 cup brown sugar for meringues topping (later)
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
semi chocolate chips – about 1 cup (or bittersweet might work great here! – next time I’ll try…to cut the sweetness)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.  (Line with parchment if you plan to invert on a pan – and cut neatly.  We just ate them out of the pan!)  Alternately line with parchment or foil – with an overhang so you can use as an aid to remove from pan.  Look to baking tips and pan prep for a visual.

Separate the eggs.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugars (remember just the 1/2 cup brown sugar) for 3-5 minutes – until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks one at a time until incorporated.  Add the water and vanilla and mix, scrape down, and mix again.  Add the dry ingredients by hand or on lowest speed until just combined.

Place dough in prepped pan and press to fill out evenly.  Spread and press the chocolate chips all around to cover.

With a hand mixer or in your stand mixer – whisk and beat up egg whites and slowly add brown sugar – on medium speed at first and then up to medium high until they get thick and hard peaks form (I needed to go longer here…although they were still good).  This should take several minutes.

Pour the meringue on top of the batter and bake from 45-60 minutes…but again, check often and before.  The top will get nicely browned and the middle will stay slightly gooey.  But I’ll be honest – it is hard to tell when these are done.  After poking around I realized I took the bars out too early – so I popped back into the oven.  If you need to, cut an edge and see what’s happening in there – but I will say even undercooked these are yummy.  Enjoy!

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