I was asked this week what I do when I sit down to blog, and I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer that. When I sit down and blog, I try to write something. And usually I try to make that something be about the most honest things happening in my life at the moment. Sometimes this works well and sometimes it doesn’t as much. Sometimes it comes out and the words form into posts I’m proud of, and sometimes the thoughts struggle along and it’s a miracle that I got something typed up, let alone something decent. But I found that the posts that feel the best, the most right to me, are the ones where I am just as honest as I can be.
And can I tell you what I feel like being honest about as I type this up? I want to be honest about the fact that I am tired of opinions. I am tired of people having them and feeling the need to share them, and while I recognize this feeling is a sort of opinion in itself…well, I’m being honest. I’m not talking about real opinions that matter here, like opinions on gun violence and what the United States should do in regards to Syria. I’m talking about the opinions that don’t matter, the opinions about what people should post on Facebook and the opinions people have regarding other people’s parenting and the opinions people have about other bloggers’ blogs. Because really, what value are we adding?
I am tired of seeing things (without even trying to) that make me wonder whose feelings might be hurt by that opinion. I am tried of the internet being used as a disguise so that people can say anything they want. A couple of months ago I was asked to do this little story on NPR. It was meant to be entertaining, not informative, and when I went online to send the link to my family the comments just astounded me. People had opinions about me just because I got on the radio and talked about the time my family got stuck in our sailboat on a sandbar. Really?
I am tired of the destruction on the internet, and that is the most honest thing I can tell you right now. And it is why, as much as possible, I try to fill this space with stories about family and about our weekends together and about the times we gather around the table. I try to fill this space with memories that make me happiest and perhaps provide some encouragement to people who think they or their kids dislike vegetables. I try to fill this space with the things that make me content with life, which of course includes chocolate. And I always try to be honest, because five or ten or twenty years from now, when I look back through my posts I want to remember that I made these brownies for our tailgate and that we got to spend a weekend with friends, and I want to remember that all of this is so much more important and so much more life-giving than the easy degradation that I am tired of on the internet this week.
Cookie Topped Brownies
adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours
The brownies were some of the best and richest I’ve had in awhile. They are gooey brownie on the bottom and chewy cookie on top with an almost liquid like cookie dough layer in between. The cookie part isn’t the easiest to spread across the top of the brownie batter, but just be patient with it and don’t worry about making it perfect. They puffed up a lot in the oven, but settled down once they were cooled.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 55 minutes
Makes about 20-24 (one 9 x 13 inch pan)
For the brownie layer:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
For the cookie layer:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (or 1 cup chocolate chips)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place your oven rack in the center of your oven. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan or spray with cooking spray (you can also line with parchment paper, but I had no trouble cutting the brownies out just after spraying it).
2. In a small heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter. Heat until the chocolate and butter is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a bit.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and thick. Then mix in the salt and vanilla. Slowly add the chocolate, mixing slowly as you add it. Then slowly add the flour, mixing on low speed just until the the flour is incorporated. Then stir in the nuts, if you’re using them.
4. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it out evenly, and set aside.
5. To make the cookie mixture, combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Then add the egg and egg yolk, mixing until incorporated. Then mix in the vanilla.
6. In a small separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing on low just until the flour is incorporated. The stir in the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips).
7. Drop the batter in small spoonfuls onto the top of the brownie batter. Do your best to spread each spoonful out a bit over the brownies with a spatula or the back of your spoon, but don’t worry about making it perfect.
8. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the cookie layer is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with just a bit of chocolate on it. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Slice into small squares and serve.