Soft and Chewy Seven Layer Magic Bar Cookies

Friday is my favorite day of the week. I love the big Shabbat dinner, I love the period of relaxation that it symbolizes, and most of all, I love being surrounded by my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.

Shabbat dinner always begins at the same time: late. If dinner is called for 6:30, everyone shows up at 7:00. Chips, dips, crudites, and random vegetables that my aunt pickles are set out while everyone gathers around and catches up on their weeks.

Next, we surround my aunts as they light the Shabbat candles and say the blessings. Usually, they’ll break out in a chorus of some made up song or la-da-da’s. My brother and I just watch and giggle as they close their eyes and sway around the dining room.

Eventually, dinner is served. Some variation of soup, chicken, vegetables, and potatoes is often in store. And ya can’t forget about the Challah. I look forward to it all week. Soft, most, bread with a touch of honey-vanilla bread that I can’t stop myself from eating throughout the meal. If I’m lucky, my parents will get to take the leftovers home so I can nosh on them all week.

Dessert is sometimes held to a lower standard at Shabbat dinners, mostly because by the time we finish our meal everyone is far too stuffed to consider something sweet.

Which leads me to SOFT AND CHEWY SEVEN LAYER MAGIC BAR COOKIES.

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That butterscotchy, coconutty, chocolatey flavor of a seven layer bar with the soft, chewy, fluffy texture of a perfectly cooked chocolate chip cookie.

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I learned 3 new, very useful baking tools while conjuring up these cookies:

1. Refrigerate your cookie dough for AT LEAST 2 hours before baking. Refrigerated cookie dough –> less thin and flat, more fluffy cookies.

2. Pressing each mound of cookie dough slightly with your palm ensures the cookies will be uniform in size.

3. Only let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Don’t make the same mistake I’ve made with many other cookie recipes: keeping the cookies on the baking sheet too long keeps cooking them, possibly creating burn-y bottoms.

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These new lessons I learned made for the best texture I have ever gotten out of a cookie. A slightly crunchy outer shell surrounding a melty chocolate, butterscotch, coconut, and graham filling.

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My family definitely left room for these cookies this Shabbat. In fact, I think I saw my uncle sneak about 5 cookies before we even ate dinner 😉

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http://www.averiecooks.com/2013/07/soft-and-chewy-seven-layer-magic-bar-cookies.html

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nutella lava cookie cups

Anything that happens last minute usually makes me super anxious. But last Sunday morning, when I woke to a group text from my friend Lauren asking if all of us would like to join her on her boat docked on Wilmette’s beautiful Gillson Beach, with a beautiful view of the Bahai Temple, I wasn’t the least bit anxious. I was CRAZY excited. What a perfect opportunity to whip up a last minute, yummy treat that my friends would love!

We had a new, unopened jar of Nutella that somehow had not yet been consumed, so I started there. Plus it was SO sweet of Lauren to offer to have us on her boat, and Nutella is one of her all time favorite foods (literally the girl eats it by the jar) so I knew a recipe using this fabulous spread was necessary.

These Nutella lava cookie cups are convenient (besides the Nutella, most of the ingredients needed to make the cookie cup are probably already in your pantry), they are simple (all ya have to do is make cookie dough, press into the bottom of a muffin tin, top with nutella and more cookie dough, and bake), and they are oozy, melty goodness. What a piece of cake! 😉

the cookie dough base is like making your average chocolate chip cookie: mix dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and combine.

Imagethen, my favorite part of any recipe, folding in the chocolate chips. i think my brother is telepathic and can tell when the cookie dough is complete from his man cave in the basement because as soon as the chips were all stirred in he was upstairs in the kitchen ready for a bite.

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check out dat yummy dough!

before i started making anything, i had sprayed my muffin pan with pam so that i wouldn’t have an ooey gooey mess when trying to scoop my cookie cups out of the pan. now it was time to press some of the cookie dough into that prepared pan.

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Now, for the fun part. spooning melty Nutella by the teaspoonful into the established bottoms of my cookie cups. I could have eaten the cookie cup then, without even baking it.

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One more step and then it was into the oven! I took the leftover cookie dough and pressed little bits of it on top of the Nutella and cookie base, being careful not to press too hard or the Nutella would ooze out.

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These babies baked until the edges turned a golden brown and the chocolate chips began to melt. You think they look pretty good straight out of the oven, until you let them cool for a few hours, gently take them out of the pan, and are able to see the layers of hazelnutty, buttery, ooey gooey goodness. Then they appear as a masterpiece.

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This recipe only makes about 10 massive cookie cups, so if you’re looking to feed many friends (and jealous family members who realize there are none left for them), double or triple the recipe.

As soon as you cut into a cookie cup, the golden cookie topping gently breaks apart and gives way to a melty, rich Nutella filling that pours out. YUM.

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As soon as my friends and I finished our salads, we were ready for something sweet. Lauren reached for my tupperware of desserts, lifted the lid, and was faced with a familiar smell. She closed her eyes, took a breath, and asked, hopefully but knowingly, “Do these have Nutella in them?” Her and the rest of my friends went in with the original plan of splitting the cookie cups. But obviously, none of them could resist polishing off the entire thing, some of them even munching on another cookie cup. It’s seemingly impossible to just stop at one!

the finished product!

the finished product!

My parents and brother were so BEYOND jealous they could each only try a little bit of a cookie cup that I am OBLIGATED to make these again this coming weekend. If that isn’t the sign of a successful recipe, I don’t know what is! check it out here!: http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/2013/02/25/nutella-lava-cookie-cups/

Monster Cookie Bars (for the 4th of July!)

Some people aren’t big cake fans. And that’s totally cool. When my friends and I gathered for a 4th of July potluck last night, I wanted to give non-cake-lovers and alternate option. What better than Monster Cookie Bars! Because really, who can say no to a peanut butter, oats, chocolate chip, and m&m combo? (Not me-I had 3 fresh out of the oven!)

One of the first, and most important parts of the recipe to remember, is buttering the pan. When the recipe called for one stick + 1 tablespoon of butter, I thought to myself, “It’d be fine if I just used one stick, right? I don’t want to go to the grocery store and buy that extra tablespoon that I don’t have lying around in the house.” WRONG. Buttering the pan ensures stick free cookie bars that stay together when you peel them from the pan after baking.

The recipe also called for a stand mixer, but I used a standard beater which worked just fine! (Remember, I’m a college girl! i can’t afford a stand mixer, so I find easy and effective replacements).

The batter was so simple to create.

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Once you mix most of the ingredients together, you use some arm strength (all of my hot yoga has been paying off!) to fold in the m&ms and chocolate chips with a spatula. The batter smelled so delicious even pre-baking that my entire family was tempted downstairs to the kitchen to sample some.

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I popped these babies in the oven and cooked them for about 13.5 minutes, in between the suggested cooking time of 13-14 minutes. The bars came out BEAUTIFULLY. Melty yet still intact chocolate chips, golden oats, and sprinkles of m&ms.

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I got excited and made the mistake of taking the bars out of the pan before they were cool enough. I’d give it a good few hours of cooling on a wire rick to make sure the bars come out smoothly and stay in nice squares.

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I decorated my bars with some classic store-bought chocolate fudge frosting and 4th of July sprinkles. The toppings were sweet and decadent but many of my friends and family members commented that the bars would be just as good without frosting!

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The recipe makes around 50 bars (with enough leftovers for my 16 year old brother to have one after every meal, which he does).Image

The bars are rich, delicious, and are a one bowl recipe that’s a “piece of cake” to make! 😉