brown sugar chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

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Things teachers get excited about:

  • Abandoned, slightly used 3-ring binders
  • Tape
  • Stolen Questionably obtained beakers and graduated cylinders
  • Filing cabinets
  • Tape

Through the course of my preparations for my first year of teaching, I’ve learned many things. The most important of all my newly developed skills is the ability to forage for supplies. As in, if you are walking down the hall and see something semi-usable that does not seem to have a current owner, you grab it. Then you hide it. Because somehow, somewhere down the line, you’ll need it.

My most recent acquisitions include the aforementioned binder, some scissors, a stack of old National Geographic magazines, and 4-5 previously used (but only 25% filled) notebooks. Don’t ask me where I hid them. I’ll never tell.

I currently have my eye on some hanging wall pocket folders, but that heist is going to require some premeditation, strategizing, and possibly a wig.

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Definitely a wig.

After a long day in the Blackboard Jungle, sometimes cookies are a non-negotiable necessity. You try to talk yourself out of it. You eyeball the carrots in your fridge and contemplate what your life would be like if you were the kind of person that could find those a satisfactory alternative. You look wistfully at your skinny jeans, banished to the Shame Corner in your closet. You spy, with your little eye, your yoga pants, so friendly and stretchy, ask the Muffin Top Gods for forgiveness, and reach for the measuring cup.

You solemnly do ab workouts the entire time the cookies are in the oven.

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These are chewy and delicious and the chocolate chips add a little extra punch of sweetness. You could also add nuts, or, if you have no shred of decency and morals whatsoever, throw some raisins in.

Recipe for Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper) and set aside.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in thirds, combining after every addition.

Add oats and chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet, approximately 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until edges are golden-brown.

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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!

lemon blackberry petit fours

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Spring is coming, even if I have to drag it here by its teeth. For a dinner party tonight, I had to make a dessert that would be easy to eat, without the fuss of slicing and plating and other tasks that delay consumption. I landed on petit fours – they’re basically tiny, bite-sized layer cakes, and they are fun to decorate and easy to eat. In keeping with the impending season, I chose lemon curd and blackberry preserves as the fillings, to give these little nuggets a kick of citrus-y, fruity freshness.

p.s. The colors in that picture are not enhanced. They really are that obnoxiously neon.

ingredientsI’m not entirely sure why I bothered to take an “ingredients picture” if I was only going to include half of the ingredients in it, but it happened, and I think we should all try to move on. The diet Pepsi has nothing to do with the recipe, but it fueled me through the whole messy process, so it deserves a cameo in this post. And I forgot to remove it before I took the picture. Frazzled.

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These are total cheater’s petit fours, as I used frozen Sara Lee butter pound cake rather than making my own cake. Judge not, this lets you skip one giant step in this multi-step process. Also – and I was surprised at this – the cake itself is actually delicious! Plus, if you start working with it right out of the freezer, it will be much easier to slice up. Of course, if you insist on being a baking rockstar and making your own cake, you can just freeze it yourself before working on it. I’m not trying to tell you how to life your life.

DSC01805While the cake is still frozen, slice off the edges and even it up so that you are left with a nice, smooth, symmetrical block. Save the scraps! They make a yummy little snack to munch on while you are baking. Or afterwards, with some coffee or some ice cream or whatever you want!

DSC01808The term “petit four” means “small oven” in French. Originally, petit fours were baked in coal-fired brick ovens as they cooled, to take advantage of the residual heat. They can be sweet or savory. I’m not entirely sure what the distinction between petit fours and canapés is, as both seem to refer to small appetizers that must be consumed en masse in order to feel anywhere near satiated. And then there are amuse-bouches, (translation: mouth amusers). I think generally “canapé” is used to refer to a savory appetizer, and amuse-bouches fall into this category as well. The term “petit four”, conversely, is usually applied to tiny little desserts. Somebody please straighten me out if I have this all wrong. Regardless of what these are called, we clearly have the French to thank for them (and for the resultant confusion regarding terminology).

DSC01816 DSC01814Before making these, I recommend laying out newspapers or wax paper all over your work surface – the icing will drip everywhere, and this will cut down the clean-up process substantially. The frosting is basically royal icing, so keep that in mind when selecting your fillings – something with a little tang or tartness will help balance out the sweetness of the coating.

I used coconut extract in the frosting, but almond extract, or even mint extract (depending on the fillings) would work well too!

DSC01826Recipe for Lemon Blackberry Petit Fours 

  • 1/2 cup lemon curd (recipe at My Baking Addiction)
  • 1/2 cup blackberry preserves (any other fruit preserves will work as well)
  • 2 frozen Sara Lee butter pound cakes

Prepare the lemon curd and let it cool (you can speed this up by putting the bowl of lemon curd in an ice bath).

Remove the pound cakes from the freezer and trim all edges and sides (including the top) until they are two smooth blocks. Slice each block into 3 layers (like you would to make a layer cake).

On top of two of the layers, spread a layer of lemon curd (amount of lemon curd is up to you, but don’t use too much or the petit fours won’t hold together as well). On another two cake layers, spread the blackberry preserves.

Stack each cake so that their is a layer with blackberry preserves, topped with a layer with lemon curd, topped with the final layer. You may need to trim the sides again to make sure they are perfectly even.

Slice each cake into squares – mine were about 1″ squares, but you can do whatever size you like.

Put all the squares back in the freezer until you are ready to frost them (this will keep them from falling apart while frosting).

Frosting:

  • 4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
  • food coloring (if desired)

Set up a double-boiler, or a heatproof bowl balanced over a saucepan of simmering water. Put all the ingredients in the bowl, and stir to combine. Bring the frosting up to a lukewarm temperature, so that it is “liquid-y” enough to easily coat the cakes.

Set up a cooling rack with newspaper/wax paper underneath to catch all the drippings from the frosting.

Remove the cake squares from the freezer and dip each one into the frosting, then set on the cooling rack. The icing will take 5-10 minutes to solidify. Once the icing is solid, you can remove the cakes from the cooling rack and place them on a serving platter. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!