Tips for Cutting Beautiful Bars
Holiday-worthy bar cookies will look even more special if cut in shapes other than traditional squares. Here's how.
Baking bar cookies for a holiday party, open house, or cookie exchange? Whether you make simple brownies or layered works of art, those bars will look even more special if cut in interesting shapes. Still, bars can be difficult to cut. So check out our helpful hints for making your bars beautiful.
Preparing Bars for Cutting
Line the baking pan:
Fit a large piece of aluminum foil into the bottom of the pan and up over the sides, extending about 4 inches to create "handles." Grease as directed by the recipe. Fill with bar cookie batter and bake as directed.
Cool baked bars completely:
If you try to cut bars that are still warm, they'll crumble and fall apart before you get them out of the pan. No one wants to put a gooey mess on display! So let the bars cool completely to set up for cutting.
Freeze the cooled bars:
Cover and freeze your bars overnight (or for at least 2 hours) to firm up even more. Using the aluminum foil "handles," lift the complete pan of frozen bar cookies onto a cutting board.
Invert the bars:
Some types of cookie bars (such as Caramel Candy Bars, Chocolate Caramel-Cashew Bars, and Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies) feature surfaces that aren't easily smashed or ruined. These bars can be inverted onto a cookie sheet so the foil can be removed. Flip the inverted bars right side up onto the cutting board for the next step. Frost, if desired, before cutting.
Squares, Rectangles, and Triangles
Measure for accuracy:
Cutting all the bars exactly the same size helps make them look like they came from a fancy bakery. If you're cutting squares or rectangles, measure with a ruler to get the exact measurements you want. Using a sturdy paring knife, lightly score the ends of the bars to correlate with your desired measurements. For example, score every 2 inches along the two short sides and every 4 inches along the two long sides.
Prepare a chef's knife for cutting:
Coat a large, sharp chef's knife with cooking spray, then wipe it clean with a paper towel. This step will help prevent the knife from sticking to the bars as you cut.
Line up the chef's knife:
Starting from the middle of the complete block of bars, line the chef's knife up with the score marks. Extend the knife across the surface of the bars to the other side. Firmly press knife down through the bars and gently drag the knife out of the end closest to you.
Repeat this step as many times as needed. With each pass, wipe the chef's knife clean with a damp cloth. Coat with cooking spray and wipe clean again. (Yes, it's time-consuming but we promise the results will make it worthwhile!)
Cut bars as directed above to create rectangles or squares. Cut the rectangular and square bars in half diagonally to create triangles. Or, try a time-saving Brownie Wedge Pan
from the Betty Crocker Store, which bakes your treats in the same of a triangle.
Are you cutting a bar cookie with a crumble or delicate topping? Use a paring knife coated with cooking spray to "saw" through the top layer partway before using the chef's knife technique.
More Pretty Shapes for Bars
Thin Cookie Sticks:
Measure 1-inch intervals along either the short or long end of the pan of bar cookies. Cut through the bars using the chef's knife technique described above to create long 1-inch strips. Cut the strips into 3-inch pieces or "sticks."
Need more speed? Follow the instructions for rectangular bars. Then, working from the short end of each bar, simply cut it in half to create two long, thin bars.
Circles/Stars/Other Simple Shapes:
Choose a sturdy metal cookie cutter – at least one-inch deep – that features a simple shape such as circles or stars. Cutters with intricate designs will not release bars completely after cutting.
Coat the cutter(s) with cooking spray and then wipe clean with a paper towel. Firmly and quickly press the cutter down through the pan of bar cookies. Gently cut away the outer scraps using a paring knife. Slide a spatula under the cutter and lift the shape out to a flat, clean surface. Remove the cutter.
Use the leftover scraps to make Holiday Cake Bon Bons. Just mix the scraps with frosting, shape into balls, and freeze. Dip the frozen balls in melted candy coating and then decorate as desired. Check out these cake ball ideas
Transferring Bars after Cutting:
So you're done cutting the bar cookies into pretty shapes. Now what? Always use a thin, sturdy square or rectangular metal spatula that is the size of the bar or smaller to transfer the shapes to a platter or gift box. Make sure the spatula features straight squared-off edges. You can also use two thin flat icing spatulas to help support each bar when transferring it to a platter.
If layering your bars for presentation, make sure the tops of the bars are suitable for stacking. If so, line each layer with parchment paper or waxed paper.
Unsure about which recipes work well for cutting? Try these Betty Crocker favorites. They're idea for cutting into beautiful shapes.