You can make amazingly delicious caramel snickerdoodle bars using a cake mix. No one will ever know you didn’t fuss all day making a batch of these cinnamon cookie bars topped with a layer of creamy Dulce de Leche and luscious white chocolate ganache.
I fell in love with caramel snickerdoodle cookie bars the first time I tried them at a friend’s picnic. Everyone was raving about them and, after one bite, I understood why.
The chewy blondie cookie bar topped with a thick layer of soft caramel was complimented by luxuriously creamy white chocolate and the flavors were all balanced by a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. The cookies were definitely rave-worthy.
I just had to share a version of this recipe with you but I made a significant change to make it an easy cookie recipe.
The original recipe from Taste of Home for the blondie cookie layer requires 8 ingredients to be mixed for about 8 minutes using a mixer. For this easy cookie recipe, I wanted to cut down on the number of ingredients (from 8 to 4), reduce the mixing time (from 8 minutes to 1 minute), and eliminate the mixer altogether. So, I made the snickerdoodle cookie layer using a cake mix.
Not only did this simple swap make this recipe easier, but the delicious cake mix cookie layer is softer than the original making these bars easier to bite into. The caramel doesn’t ooze out with each bite.
I brought a pan of these caramel-topped cake mix cookie bars to a party and everyone was raving about them. I hope you do too!
Let’s make caramel snickerdoodle bars!
- 9×13-inch baking pan
- parchment paper or non-stick tin foil (to line the pan)
- mixing bowl
- silicone spatula or wooden spoon
- yellow cake mix – Use one 15.25-ounce box. If your cake mix isn’t that size, add enough flour to make up the difference.
- melted butter – Use salted or unsalted. Either works fine in this recipe. You can use oil if you prefer, the butter adds a wonderful rich flavor to these cookie bars.
- eggs – It’s always best to use room-temperature eggs. I typically set my eggs (in their shells) in a bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes to warm them to room temperature.
- brown sugar – Add brown sugar to the cake mix cookie bars to give them that traditional blondie flavor.
- cinnamon sugar – Blend together 3 teaspoons of cinnamon with 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar to make a deliciously sweet, delicately spicy topping for your snickerdoodle bars.
- Dulce de Leche – This caramelized sweetened condensed milk looks and tastes like soft caramel.
- You can find cans or jars of Dulce de Leche in the baking aisle next to the sweetened condensed milk or in the International grocery aisle.
- If you buy it in a glass jar, you’ll see that it looks like caramel with a golden brown color.
- If you buy a can, be sure there is a picture of the caramel on the label. If the picture looks like glossy milk, it is just sweetened condensed milk. If you accidentally buy the wrong thing, you can make homemade Dulce de Leche using cans of sweetened condensed milk.
- white chocolate ganache – You’ll melt heavy whipping cream and white chocolate together to create a decadently rich white chocolate ganache to spread over the caramel layer. If you use white chocolate bars, be sure to chop them into small pieces. Chips work fine too.
step 1: Line the pan.
Whenever I am making bar cookies, I like to line the pan so that I can easily remove the large cookie before cutting it into squares. I typically use non-stick tin foil but this time I chose to use parchment paper.
If you use parchment paper, you will find it easier to spread the cookie dough into the pan if you grease the pan with butter or baking spray. When you are ready to remove the cookies, you will need to run a thin plastic scraper around the edge of the pan to release the paper from the pan.
If you use non-stick tin foil you do not need to grease the pan. So, it will release more easily from the pan.
step 2: Mix, spread, & bake.
Mix the ingredients, spread them into the pan, then top with cinnamon sugar and bake.
You’ll know the cookies are done when the edges firm up and turn golden brown.
step 3: Spread caramel.
This step is super easy! You simply spread 24 ounces of Dulce de Leche over the cooled pan of cookies. That’s it! Just try to spread it as evenly as possible so that your caramel snickerdoodle bars each have a nice even thickness of caramel. I used an offset spatula. It worked great.
I know this seems like a lot of Dulce de Leche but trust me, you will love that thick layer of caramel on these cookie bars. It’s amazing.
step 4: Make white chocolate ganache.
White chocolate ganache is a blend of heavy whipping cream and white chocolate. If you are using chocolate bars, be sure to chop them into very small pieces so they melt evenly.
Combine the cream and white chocolate in a small saucepan and set it over LOW heat on the stove. Heat, stirring often, until about 75% of the white chocolate has melted. Then, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until smooth and creamy.
DO NOT overheat your ganache! If you do, the ganache will separate and become grainy or greasy. Take your time and allow the chocolate to melt over low heat.
Spread it over the caramel in an even layer.
step 5: Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Immediately, sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the white chocolate ganache. If you wait until the ganache cools, the cinnamon sugar will not stick.
Set the pan aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour. This will allow the white chocolate ganache time to cool down so that it’s smooth and creamy.
Then, pop the pan of cookies into the freezer for 30 minutes just before cutting them into squares. This will help to firm up the caramel cookie bars so they are easier to cut.