Sunshine and Shadow Bars: how could I not stop and investigate with a name like that? This is a recipe I found in one of those old cookbooks made from recipes compiled by different people. And when I say old, I mean there are crayon scribbles all over it, caramel and brown sugar stains dotting the pages, and the front cover was ripped off or lost to the sands of time a while back. Maybe it’s an old church cookbook, or something compiled as a fundraiser. All I know is that this is the cookbook my mom always had out on the cupboard whenever it was time to make something when I was a kid. So whoever’s recipe this started out as, I tip my hat to you!
Sunshine and Shadow Bars are spectacular (and a fun thing to say in the voice of a sssnake. Thanks, letter s!) because they combine elements everyone loves: a bar that basically tastes like a chocolate chip cookie, and that joyous substance known as meringue. You know when you walk through a mall and right next to Cinnabon or Auntie Anne’s Pretzels there’s always a little dessert place selling massive pizza-sized cookies with tons of frosting on top? And there are always little kids pointing and begging? Maybe you were once one of those kids. Not me. I wanted Dippin’ Dots, myself. Anyway, the basic theory behind the cookie pizza was brilliant: cookies need to be covered with frosting. The meringue on these bars is basically the frosting, just wearing a nicer jacket.
You can experiment a lot with these bars. Add even more chocolate chips, or mix in some caramel chips. It might be interesting to see if you can get a layer of jam between the cookie and meringue. And what about coconut? Toss some in! I love recipes that are basically a blueprint for mixing and adding and doing whatever your heart desires. That’s what baking should be, right? Combining the things you love into one scrumptious bite, then seeing if you have to share with anyone else.
And what do Pie and the boys think of the bars?
Have a fabulous time strolling through the land of confection!
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1½ cups light brown sugar, divided
- 1 tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, or more to taste
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, white sugar, and ½ cup of the light brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add in the egg yolks, water, and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if the fancy strikes you. Set aside
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda, then add to the creamed butter mixture.
- Spread onto a greased 9x13 pan.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the batter, and press them down into the batter.
- Clean the bowl of the mixer, and put on the whisk attachment.
- Make a meringue by beating the egg whites until they've reached stiff peaks. You know you're at stiff peaks when you turn off your mixer, raise up the whisk attachment, and the egg whites are standing firm and upright. It should be like a little white mountain.
- Gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar into the meringue until completely incorporated. The meringue will look a little more fluid at this point, and that's just fine.
- Delicately spread the meringue evenly over the bars. No lie, this takes a little patience.
- Bake for 30-32 minutes.
- Cut these bars while they are still warm. They will have an attractive crumbly and delicate meringue top when you do so. If you wait until they are cool to cut them, they will crumble to bits.