Monday, November 14, 2011

DANGER: Chocolate chip cookies with sea salt

Don't make these if you have a taste for both chocolate and salt and don't want to gain 10 pounds by the end of the week. I love nothing more than mixing salty and sweet -- especially if the sweet is chocolate -- therefore I will never be making these ever again unless I suddenly develop much better self control. Corey and I inhaled these this weekend in some sort of a race to see who was more of a glutton. It got ugly. We both lost, I guess.

But enough self-deprication. I got this recipe from a really awesome book called Mom's Big Book of Cookies (a gift from my mother-in-law). I love this cookbook for one huge reason in addition to the awesomeness of the recipes -- it is spiral bound and actually stays open flat on the counter while I'm cooking! I have a cookbook holder, but it really only works well for a narrow range of book size. Now I just have to keep my son's grubby mitts off the book while I'm baking. The gorgeous color photos of the cookies are irresistible to him and he is bound and determined to push a chair up to the counter and spirit the book away for reasons known only to him.


2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp medium grain (not coarse) sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.

3. Cream the cooled melted butter and sugars together in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon* until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (or up to 6 hours) to let the dough firm up.**

5. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls*** onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.****

6. Bake the cookies until golden around the edges but still soft on top, about 9 to 11 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove them with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days (unless you are like me and Corey, in which case the cookies won't last in the house for more than 24 hours, tops).

* This book is very particular about some things, like mixing with a wooden spoon and letting eggs warm to room temperature before mixing them in. I have made recipes out of the book before with straight-from-the-fridge eggs and haven't noticed the end result compromised in any way, but I'm sure the author would disagree. I actually did use a wooden spoon and mixed the butter and sugars by hand because it's so darn easy with melted butter.

** I have never heard of this step for anything other than rolled-dough cookies so I humored the author and did it. I thought it was kind of silly though and probably wouldn't do it again. I did put the bowl back in the fridge in between batches, but mostly to keep myself from consuming large quantities of cookie dough and spoiling my appetite for the finished product.

*** Does anyone actually ever follow this direction and make cookies that ridiculously small? I probably made my cookies twice this size and they baked perfectly in the same amount of time specified by the recipe. If you're really on the ball and bake a test batch of only two or three cookies to start with (like my mother does), you can test this.

**** Or just shake on a decent amount and laugh at the cookbook author for thinking you were anal enough to actually measure out such a tiny amount enough times to make several dozen cookies.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Bars: Righting Wrongs

Wrong #1: How have I never posted this recipe on this blog?!?  Banana Chocolate Chip Bars, found in my favorite cookbook of all time (Better Homes and Garden), are my signature baked goods.  I brought them to almost every potluck event when I was working, and I have made them so many times that the page in my cookbook is covered in tiny splatters of batter.  There's no telling how many people have made this recipe as a result of me e-mailing it, posting it on Facebook, and handing out the recipe at work.  Unless you don't like bananas in baked goods, you're going to love these bars.

Wrong #2: I made these wrong for years-- probably at least 7 or 8 years.  I didn't have the right size pan (a 15x10x1 baking pan, AKA a jelly roll pan, AKA a cookie sheet with sides), so I just made them in a 9x13 brownie pan.  I always wondered why I couldn't get the texture exactly right.  Then, one time when I was sending my sister the recipe, I thought more about the pan size.  I ran to Target, bought the right pan, and the next time I baked the BCCBs, they were HEAVENLY!

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Banana Chocolate Chip Bars

Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Oven 350 degrees

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

1) Grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.

2) In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; beat till combined. Beat in the egg, bananas, and vanilla till combined. Beat in flour till combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3) Spread in the prepared baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 36 bars.

Nutrition facts per bar: 117 calories, 5 grams total fat (2 grams saturated fat), 16 mg cholesterol, 92 mg sodium, 17 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 1 gram protein.


I have no picture of the banana chocolate chip bars, but here's a picture of my daughter (who loves to bake!) sampling the fruits of our labor (making brownies):