The Best No-Brainer Dessert — Even If You Can’t Bake to Save Your Life

I do many things well as a Mom, but cooking is not one. Sure, I can shuttle the kids to all of their activities, coordinate their social events, support them with homework, meet with teachers when needed, sort everyone’s laundry, and even make everyone’s school lunch (I make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich). But cook? Like, actually do something on the stove?  Nope. My husband is our family chef, and with good reason: 1) he’s talented and actually likes it; 2) he has no choice because I am the only other option. 

I struggle to make grilled cheese without burning it, and struggle to bake a batch of cookies out of the box (I once added salt instead of sugar). I even sometimes struggle to prepare a  box of macaroni and cheese (I recently forgot to add the cheese packet). Sure, I can scramble some eggs, make lasagna, or even toss a salad if I give myself time, an easy recipe, and/or don’t allow distractions to creep in. Truly, most of my challenges come from a lack of patience, attention, and motivation– all balled into one easily-frustrated ball of kitchen anxiety. 

The finished product: fool-proof deliciousness!

But there is one dessert I CAN make– that NEVER stresses me out. One that I have never ever burned, under-cooked, or messed up in any way. And everyone loves it!  It’s so simple it barely counts as cooking or baking– and yet it doesn’t come out of a box. This magic no-brainer dessert is what my family calls “Mom’s Chip Squares.” (My mom found this recipe somewhere long ago, no doubt when she was also looking for a recipe for something easy and crowd-pleasing.)

I bring Chip Squares to every potluck and party, and they’re always a hit. My husband’s
extended family (who are also culinary geniuses like him) actually enjoy and request them at yearly gatherings– even though they’re nowhere near the same league as the macaroons, pavlova, and three milk cake family members make “for fun” (can you imagine)?

Chip squares are not fancy– they’re simple and just plain good. They’re not low fat or even close, but small enough so that you don’t need to feel (too) bad about having a chip square with coffee or on the side of some ice cream (pro tip: chip squares are best chilled, in the fridge). Plus, they’re so easy to make, that even kids can help! The best part: they appear to require much more time and baking expertise than they actually do (you’ll have everyone fooled!)! 

Here’s what you need to make them: 

No-Brainer Chip Squares:

½ cup of butter 

1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs 

1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk 

1 (12 oz) package of semi-sweet chocolate chips 

1 cup of peanut butter chips 

Directions: 

Ready for the oven!

Preheat the oven to 350. In a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, melt the butter in the oven (or microwave). Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter, pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumbs. Top with chocolate chips and then peanut butter chips (press down firmly with a spoon). Bake for 25-30 min, or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow the pan to cool for at least an hour before cutting into squares (I usually put the pan into the fridge and cut them the next day). Enjoy!

Variations:

You can add extra peanut butter or chocolate chips if you want your bars to be “chippier.” In one of my favorite batches, I used tiny chocolate chips together with regular sized ones to amp up the “chippyness.” Adding coconut also allows you to level up the recipe (my husband’s favorite). You’ll find that the cooked bars look “black and gold” (ish), so it could be fun to use a fleur-de-lis shaped cookie cutter and make them into a tasty Saints-inspired treat (I’ve never done this, but it’s worth a shot!) 

Go ahead and give this busy mom miracle treat a try. It’s worked wonders for my Mom and me for 30 years and counting. Please share how your batch came out, and if you modified the recipe in any way. I hope these worry-free treats bring you and your loved one’s peace, joy, and a stress-free kitchen this holiday season. 

Brittney Dayeh grew up in the Catskills of Upstate New York but considers herself a New Orleanian. She moved to New Orleans in 2006 with her husband, whom she met while teaching English in Japan. She immediately fell in love with the culture, history, and vibe of this city. Brittney is a high school librarian at a local public school and lives in Algiers with her husband, who is also a local teacher, and her two children, ages 13 and 9. She has a passion for young adult literature and Louisiana history, is an avid runner, and dreams about kayaking with manatees.

4 COMMENTS

  1. These sound a lot like the seven layer bars graham crust coconut chocolate chips butterscotch chips and sweetened condensed milk pecans chopped on top. Yummy!

  2. These are 7 layer cookie bars without the coconut and nuts (recipe used to always be printed on the sweetened concerned milk cans). Recipe has been around for years with many alterations as I learned to make these when I was a teenager and now in my 50’s!

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