Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars


Last week was a tough one. I am lucky enough that such weeks are usually few and far between, but that does not make them any easier to handle during the thick of it. When two very, very type-A personalities share a small apartment, it can be chaos when both feel stressed out and overwhelmed at the same time. Even more, heavy, looming questions weighed on my mind – things like the roles we take on as we grow older, where life is heading and whether I’m ready, and dealing with that little voice that occasionally rears its ugly head with the question of being “good enough”.

Every afternoon in the solace of my office, after I finished my lunch and popped open my vacuum-sealed thermos of strong, black coffee, I wanted nothing more than the simple, comforting pleasures of a chocolate chip cookie. But not just any cookie, I wanted the chocolate chip cookies my mom used to make for our home-packed school lunches. She would mix up the dough and then spread it over a cookie sheet, instead of scooping out individual cookies, to save a few precious moments. In our house, they were just called “bars” and you could find them baking in the oven more weekends than not.


On Sunday, I finally gave into this craving and starting making my own batch of bars. Over the whir of the stand mixer, I began to realize I was not only craving the actual cookie, but also the process of creating something from scratch. More than anything, I craved the feeling of being a little girl again, without the stressors and negativity that sometimes come along with the independence of adulthood. I wanted to return, even just momentarily, to biting into a fresh-from-the-oven bar, taking a sip of ice-cold milk and feeling safe and totally comforted, with minimal worries on my mind.

But I found myself on the opposite side of the vivid image in my memory. Suddenly I felt just like my mother – whipping up a batch of fresh cookies between a million other responsibilities and a lengthy to-do list. While I might not handle my responsibilities as gracefully as her, it provided an unexpected comfort to know I am far from the only person who has felt the pressures of trying to achieve the perfect balance in life; trying to be the best everything to everyone.


As the timer beeped its warning, Mike emerged wide-eyed from his fort of GMAT prep books. A childish grin took the place of a former scowl, as he counted down the minutes until the bars had cooled enough for the molten chocolate to not burn his mouth.

Sometimes we need to comfort those we care about most in order to put our own lives back in perspective. 

Yields: 12 bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for baking sheet
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a quarter baking sheet with some softened butter. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, allowing the first to incorporate fully before adding the second, then add the vanilla. Stop the stand mixer and pour in the flour mixture. On slow speed, incorporate the mixtures just until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Place the cookie batter on the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to work into an even layer. Bake until the top is golden and the center is set, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan until you can touch the baking sheet with bare hands, about 10 minutes. Gently flip the cookie layer on to a cooling rack, then flip (bottom-side down) onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 3-inch squares.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank goodness for childhood memories...becoming a new reality. These look amazing! :D


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