Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hitting Black Bottom

Sleepaway camp.

For my daughter, it's a totally new experience this time around.
Intensive soccer training instead of arts and crafts, and nighttime yoga instead of campfires.
Nutritional workshops instead of goofy skits, and hyper-competitive athletes instead of cliques of camp veterans.
This is one serious place.
But she has her teammates as roommates, and a cell phone to stay connected*.
She'll be fine.

For me, it's the exact same drill as last year and the year before that and the year before that.
She's gone.
I'm a wreck.
The oven's on.
I'll be 10 pounds heavier by Friday.

Black Bottom Cookie Bars
Adapted from a recipe posted on the always drool-inducing Bake or Break blog last summer. They are every bit as decadent as they look, but are easy enough that you can make them while having a panic attack at 11 pm on a weeknight, no problem.

1 c. butter, plus extra for buttering the pan
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of baking soda
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil, allowing some to overhang the edges. (This makes it easier to take the bars out and cut them neatly at the end.) Lightly butter the foil and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and continue to cook until it is nutty and brown, about 5-6 minutes. Watch carefully, as it can go from fantastic and yummy browned butter to icky burnt butter very quickly. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and the sugar, then whisk in the browned butter. Whisk in the eggs and the vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, then add to the sugar/butter/egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.

Divide the batter in half, and transfer half to the bowl that you mixed up the flour in.   Add the cocoa powder and the chocolate chips to one of the bowls, and stir well to combine.

Spread the chocolate batter in the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer. If you are using nuts**, sprinkle them on top of the chocolate layer, then spread the plain batter on top of that, smoothing gently.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely (the bars may sink a bit in the middle as they worries!), lift bars out of the pan using the foil edges, cut into small squares, and serve.

Click to print this recipe!

* This may or may not be a good thing. She called her dad three times on the first day:
Call #1 - She overslept, got lost, and got locked out.
Call #2 - All the other goalkeepers are really intense and her body hurts all over.
Call #3 - Gotta go, they just delivered the pizza.
** They'll add a welcome crunchy contrast, but I loved the bars without them.

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