happy mother’s day!

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I think this is the first time that I have been apart from my mom on Mother’s Day in my entire 23 years as a daughter. I wish that I could be home right now, making my mom some delicious brunch, and spending the day together having fun, watching movies, and probably cleaning out my dresser drawers (I WILL GET TO IT, MOTHER).

But although I can’t actually be there, I can use this blog post to talk about all of the things that make my mom awesome.

Let’s talk about how, even if I were at home right now, it would be impossible to arrange a Mother’s Day surprise that would be nearly as elaborate and well-executed as the surprises that she puts together for us every Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day, or any other celebratory occasion. This is the lady who BROKE INTO my apartment on my 21st birthday (while I was in class), covered everything in streamers and confetti and left Diet Coke, chocolate pizza, and an assortment of mini liquor bottles on my desk. Slightly amazing.

IMG_0076There is one very upsetting thing about my mother, though. You know that omniscience that is granted to mothers to allow them to know things that the rest of us just can’t? My mother’s got it in spades. The lady is ALWAYS RIGHT. Even if it takes me 6 years to realize it (looking at you, ugly prom dress), she is always, always right. And it only took me 23 years to figure it out.

Her resumé includes raising two daughters who, in addition to being a little stubborn, a little melodramatic, and a little crazy, are also incredibly photogenic.

DSC01349 DSC01174 DSC01831This blog is actually the perfect place to talk about my mom (and I do mention her frequently), because she is really the one who taught me how to cook and bake. She makes the most delicious food you will ever eat, and I hope I can one day do the same, and make it look as easy as she does. She’s always the voice of reason when it comes to eating well and being healthy, advocating for everything in moderation and depriving yourself of nothing. Everything I know (and lots of things I don’t know!) about food and love come from her, and I wish that I could be home right now, watching her scowl and surreptitiously remove some of the butter from whatever dough/batter I’m in the process of making.

I love you Mom also give me the Reporter Bag you never use it.

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salty brown butter nutella-stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars

DSC_1681I spent 5 minutes trying to think of a shorter name for these bars (and, consequently, for this blog post). At the end, I couldn’t bring myself to leave anything out, and I decided that these bars are worthy of a 53-letter name. (Yes, I counted.) (No, I did not count carefully, so it might not actually be 53.)

These little monsters are going to become a regular occurrence in my life (jk Mom, never again) because they are THAT GOOD. I know this, because most of them were gone in about 12 minutes. And there were only two of us.

DSC_1665The first bit of magic is the browned butter. If you melt butter and let it stay on the heat for a little while, it starts to take on this beautiful amber-brown color, and suddenly the whole apartment is filled with this crazy, nutty smell that signals the imminent arrival of something delicious. You do have to babysit the butter though, because it will go from brown to burnt very quickly, and then it’s no good.

DSC_1671Once the browned-butter cookie dough is made, half of it is pressed into the pan, and that’s when good decision-making and rational thought go out the window. Because that’s when the whole thing gets covered in Nutella. Then the rest of the cookie dough gets pressed on top of the Nutella layer, sprinkled with sea salt, and baked. The salt on top is a perfect balance for the sugar-overload going on underneath it. You won’t be sorry.

Whatever you do, don’t do this while you wait for your cookie bars to bake…

DSC_1678Unless you are in the thick of final projects and papers, and in that case, you deserve a treat while you wait for your other treat to bake.

At least you worked it off by going to the gym exactly zero times in the past 2 weeks!

DSC_1679As you can see, a lot of my chocolate chips ended up melting into the cookie dough, rather than retaining their chippy integrity. This happened because the dough was still a little warm after the addition of the browned butter, causing the chips to start to melt on contact. This can be easily fixed by letting the dough cool for a little bit before throwing the chocolate chips in. The only reason I point this out is because the chips that didn’t melt into the dough re-hardened when the bars cooled, which added a nice little crunch to the otherwise soft and gooey texture.

Even if all your chips melt, this is still going to be the best thing you’ve ever tasted.

DSC_1691Salty Brown Butter Nutella-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Recipe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white (granulated) sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Nutella
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 325°, and grease an 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ baking pan.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and continue cooking until amber flecks begin to appear, and butter takes on a rich, brown color. Remove from heat and transfer browned butter to a large mixing bowl.

Combine the browned butter with the brown sugar and white sugar. Cream the mixture using an electric hand (or stand) mixer until pale and smooth.

Add eggs and vanilla, and combine thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and combine thoroughly (either using the mixer or by hand).

Allow the mixture to cool completely, then add the chocolate chips.

Press half of the cookie dough into the greased pan. Spread a layer of Nutella (the amount is up to you!) evenly over the cookie dough.

Press the remaining cookie dough on top of the Nutella layer, then sprinkle with sea salt. (Again, the amount here is up to you, but I recommend not being too shy about it!)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (except for a possible Nutella smear!). Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!