Tagalong Cookie Bars

by Jillian
A buttery shortbread cookie topped with creamy peanut butter filling and dipped in rich milk chocolate! A homemade version of a delicious Girl Scout cookie classic!

A buttery shortbread cookie topped with creamy peanut butter filling and dipped in rich milk chocolate! A homemade version of a delicious Girl Scout cookie classic!

So last week I posted my recipe for Samoa Cream Pie, which was in honor of the always-anticipated Girl Scout cookie season. Well, I just couldn’t help myself and decided to celebrate another cookie classic that most of you know and love–the Tagalong cookie!

While I’m not AS obsessed with the Tagalong as I am with my beloved Samoas, it’s definitely in my top 3 as far as girl scout cookies go. And honestly, what’s not to love about this legendary cookie? It’s a buttery shortbread cookie with a layer of peanut butter that’s been dunked in smooth milk chocolate–a combination of flavors we all adore!

Although there’s definitely nothing wrong with the Tagalong cookies that are sold in those iconic red boxes, I was curious to see if I could create my own version of this delicious cookie classic. And this, is what I came up with…

Dare I say that this homemade version is better than the original? I know, I know…that’s a pretty big (and kind of conceited) statement to make, but hear me out!

The shortbread cookie is 10 times fresher due to the fact that it’s literally made from scratch and baked in your own oven. Therefore, you know that it hasn’t been sitting in a box for several months.

There’s also absolutely NO skimping on the peanut butter filling. In fact, it’s just as thick as the cookie layer. I don’t know about you, but the Tagalong cookie never contained enough peanut butter filling for my diabetic tastes. Furthermore, look at the SIZE of these cookie bars!! They’re like 2 or 3 Tagalong cookies combined! Speaking of, each box of Tagalong cookies contains a measly 15 cookies. And for FIVE buckaroos a box, that sounds pretty steep to me. Nonetheless, it all goes to a great cause, so I guess I should probably calm my inner Scrooge down.

I know these Tagalongs don’t look EXACTLY like the original cookie, but there’s definitely a reason for that. Instead of baking up a bunch of individual cookies, topping each of them with peanut butter, and then dipping them in chocolate, I opted for the simpler bar cookie route. Not only does this method save time, but it’s also less labor intensive.

The shortbread is super simple. First, you’ll combine some butter, salt, and brown sugar. I went with brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar because I wanted a softer bite to my shortbread cookie along with a hint of maple flavor. The maple flavor is super subtle, but it definitely adds a deepness of flavor to what tends to be a rather bland cookie.

Rounding out the cookie ingredients are flour and cornstarch. Why the cornstarch? Cornstarch gives this shortbread cookie that soft consistency, and it also ensures that it bakes up nice and thick. The dough is pressed into an 8-inch square pan that’s been lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave extra overhang on the sides, so that you can lift the bars out of the pan more easily.

The shortbread bakes in the oven for about 13-15 minutes. Very little browning happens, so your cookie should still look pretty pale by the time it’s finished baking. The edges might be slightly golden, but for the most part you’re looking to see if the cookie is crusted over and set.

After the shortbread has had some time to cool off, you can make the peanut butter filling. Similar to the cookie, this filling is a one-bowl recipe and contains very few ingredients. You’ll start by creaming/beating some butter with a hefty amount of peanut butter. After all, peanut butter IS one of the star ingredients in this cookie! Once those two ingredients have taken a spin in the bowl, vanilla, a dash of salt, and powdered sugar are added. 

Now that you’ve got your delicious peanut butter filling, spread it evenly on top of the shortbread cookie. The pan then goes into the refrigerator for a few hours to firm up the peanut butter layer. 

Once the peanut butter layer is firm, you’ll remove the bars from the pan, using the the parchment sides to lift them out and onto a cutting board. I cut my bars into 16 equal pieces. Once cut, I placed the cookie bars in the freezer for about 30 minutes to ensure that they were solid, thus easier to coat in the chocolate. 

To give the chocolate coating a softer bite, I melted the chocolate chips with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. You can also use shortening or vegetable oil. Not only does the oil provide a softer shell for these cookies, but it also makes the dipping process much easier by thinning out the chocolate a little. 

After all of the cookies have been dipped in the chocolate, it only takes about a 15-minute trip to the refrigerator for the chocolate to set up fully. 

No shade against the girl scouts, but their Tagalongs don’t even compare to this homemade version. With a buttery shortbread cookie crust, sweet n’ salty peanut butter filling, and silky smooth milk chocolate coating, these Tagalong Cookie Bars are basically a Tagalong on steroids. To NOT make them would be a major disservice to your tastebuds.

A buttery shortbread cookie topped with creamy peanut butter filling and dipped in rich milk chocolate! A homemade version of a delicious Girl Scout cookie classic!

Tagalong Cookie Bars

A buttery shortbread cookie topped with creamy peanut butter filling and dipped in rich milk chocolate! A homemade version of a delicious Girl Scout cookie classic!
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Refrigeration Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 Bars

Ingredients
  

Shortbread:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
  • cup brown sugar packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Peanut Butter Filling:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • cup powdered sugar

Chocolate:

  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions
 

Make the Shortbread:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Make sure to leave extra overhang of the parchment paper for easy removal.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and salt together until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix on low speed until a crumbly mixture forms.
  • Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Pierce crust with a fork in about a dozen places. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is set. Cool completely.

Make the Peanut Butter Filling:

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until combined. Spread filling over shortbread using a spatula, knife, or offset knife. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Coat the Bars:

  • Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave until smooth and melted. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  • Remove the now-chilled bars from the pan by sliding a knife along the edges and using the parchment sides to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the bars into 16 squares.
  • Using two forks, dip the bars into the melted chocolate until completely coated, then gently tap off the excess chocolate. Place onto the wax paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bars.
  • Refrigerate bars until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.
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