Everything That’s Awesome Bars

2016-01-22 Everything That's AwesomeOut of good conscience I had to shorten the original title of these ’cause it’s a little out of hand (as are the cookies themselves, frankly): “Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.” You see what I’m saying here.

Before even reading the recipe for these on Jenerous Sweets, I saved the link and put them at the top of my mental “Holy crap, I want to try that recipe” list. So when it was rainy and snowy yesterday, and a friend came over to hang out and play games, this was the first thing I thought of – especially since it only takes one egg. I was down to my last one and not about to drive anywhere. (My friend is from Michigan, so the measly inch or so of snow/slush/stuff of the roads didn’t phase him – me? I was phased).

As you might expect, these bars are over the top. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome, but they’re also a lot. While on some levels it’s kind of hard to eat just one, on other levels, it’s easy to put the second one down and back away.

I slightly over-baked mine, which is why I’m giving these an A- instead of a higher grade. That, and because they’re a bit more involved in terms of steps and ingredients. I tend to have instant espresso powder on hand (for just such an occasion), but that’s not necessarily something in your typical pantry.

Since the dough is a darker brown than your standard cookie dough, it was hard to tell when they were done. I used a dark metal 8×8 pan, and I think I could have taken them out after 20 minutes. I think they were in for 23, and the edges ended up a lot crispier than my personal preference. So since it’s only an 8×8 pan, I didn’t end up with enough “center cut” pieces to make me totally happy. Lesson learned for next time. Will update when I revisit them.

Everything That’s Awesome Bars (AKA Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Jenerous Sweets)

Grade: A-

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 10 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Nutella (give or take, depends how thick you want the inside layer)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8″ baking dish.

Start by placing the butter in a small pan on the stove top. Heat on medium low, stirring frequently. It’s important to keep your eye on the butter as it can quickly burn. Once the butter begins to bubble and foam (maybe 3-4 minutes), continue to stir and the butter will transition to a dark golden brown color and develop a nutty fragrance. Make sure you scrape up all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and pour into a heatproof bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients – flour, espresso powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars, mix until well combined, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides. Mix in the egg an vanilla just until combined. Add the dry ingredients and again mix until all ingredients are just combined. You do not want to over-mix the dough. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

To assemble: Press half of the cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Drop generous size spoonfuls of Nutella and spread over the cookie dough. Make sure to avoid the edges, leave about a 1/2″ border. For the remaining cookie dough, form flat discs with your hands and arrange over the Nutella. I found it easiest to make them as large as possible so I only had to put about 5 discs on top. Carefully press them to cover as much of the Nutella as possible. They will spread when baking, so you don’t need total coverage. It’s OK if a little Nutella peeks through.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until edges are golden brown. (I would suggest erring on the side of caution here). Allow cookie bars to cool for 10-20 minutes before cutting. You can serve right away, store in an air tight container for up to four days or place in the freezer for six months.

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