Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Bars
I have owned two of Marcel Desaulniers' Death By Chocolate books - the original and Death By Chocolate Cookies -- for years now, but I have to admit I don't use them all that often anymore. Part of the reason is that when I got the first book a lot of the recipes really intimidated me -- almost all of them call for a double boiler, and back then I didn't realize that you could easily create a double boiler with a bowl and a pan of water, plus the recipes have lots of steps and assembly... basically, just too much for a beginning baker to handle all that often.
I got the Cookies book a couple of years after the first one and while a few of the recipes are complicated with lots of steps, in general it's a lot more user-friendly than the first book and I have made a lot of the recipes from it. I haven't used either book much in the last couple of years though, which is surprising because it's been during the last year (since Chris and I starting dating... hmmm... coincidence?) that my occasional baking habit turned into an every-day-must-bake-something-and-blog-about-it obsession. But of course with the obsession has come lots of new baking books: Carole Walters Cookies, Carole Walters Coffee Cakes, Dorie Greenspan, The Pastry Queen, Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey, A Passion For Baking, and of course lots of food blogs that provide recipes and inspiration.
Recently though, I picked up the cookies book and flipped through it, just reminding myself what was in there. One recipe stood out to me as something I really wanted to blog about -- the brown sugar chocolate chip bars. One of the best bar cookies I have ever made and one of the easiest recipes on the planet. Plus it uses stuff that even occasional bakers tend to have on hand -- no funny ingredients, no difficult techniques and amazing bang for your buck.
They bake up incredibly sweet and buttery -- the type of thing that makes you say "wow, I can't believe something this sweet is this good." As far as I'm concerned semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips are absolutely essential to cut some of that sweetness (but then again, I also think milk chocolate chips are a crime against nature and have been known to throw a hissy fit when someone bought them for me by mistake, so maybe my opinion is a bit skewed on the subject.)
When I baked them this time though I did change things up a bit -- I added a cup of coconut to it. I'm not sure why it occurred to me because I have always liked them just fine without it, but after debating about it for a few minutes (with the song Living on the Edge running through my head the entire time) I went for it -- what's life without a little risk every now and again. (Ha!)
I also don't follow all of the instructions when I bake them, I do the important stuff of course, I just don't bother to sift the flour, baking soda and salt -- I just dump all of them into the wet ingredients which also makes them a one bowl cookie.
In the end, the coconut was good in the bars, but not really necessary. If you are like me and like coconut and chocolate, feel free, it certainly doesn't hurt anything, but if you are only so-so about coconut, leave it out and you'll still have an outstanding, super chewy and rich bar cookie.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325.
In a sifter combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Sift onto a large piece of wax paper and set aside until needed. (or, be lazy and skip this step -- just measure the ingredients right onto the wet ingredients and mix gently until incorporated)
Place the brown sugar, butter, and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together until very smooth (either by hand or with a mixer). Add the eggs and combine until incorporated. Add the vanilla and combine until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate chips and combine until incorporated.
Transfer the batter to a nonstick 9x13x2 inch pan (no need to grease it since these have so much butter in them) and use a rubber spatula to spread the batter in an even layer. Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 40 minutes until uniformly golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to room temperature for 1 hour before cutting.