Saturday, March 2, 2013

How To Fix an Ugly Week (and ugly cookies)

As the overwhelmingly stressful workload of mid-semester rears its ugly head, the need for stability and constancy in my life doubles.  Luckily for me, I have found the perfect solution: weekly family dinners, AKA- "Shabbat at the Schwacobson's."  When I first moved to 69 1/2, (our affectionate name for our super cool house), I instantly found a giant new family here in Boston.  I was so grateful to have magically been placed in a wonderful house with Suzie, JoJo, Sarah, Tony, Resi, Heather, Lily, Wil, and Cory.  Jay came quickly into my life, and before I knew it, I was at home in Boston.  What I didn't plan on, however, was becoming so close with a group of random strangers from Craigslist and their significant others that I would come to call them my family.

These guys have been there for me through every triumph, breakdown, and mess I've gotten into since my first day in Boston.  We all got lost in the stress of last semester, but this semester we are taking charge.  We are making time for ourselves and our sanity, and pulling this family back together.  

As the baker in the family, I decided my role for dinner each week will be to bring dessert.  Last week I made brownies, and this week, I decided to make cookies.  I didn't have time to go grocery shopping, so I searched my magical box of baking supplies and found some chocolate chips, Nutella, and toffee pieces.  I couldn't pick just one, so I decided to use all three.  It may have been a little too ambitious, and I ended up underestimating the adaptability of one of my favorite cookie recipes.  The cookies came out of the oven looking like chocolate pancakes.  However, I didn't have more supplies, or a whole lot of time to bake another batch before dinner.  I got creative, and decided to cut them up into cool shapes so no one would notice how ugly they were.  This did the trick with aesthetics, but to my surprise, no one even cared what they looked like, because they were so addictingly delicious.

Nutella Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe way too adapted from here
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies
4 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee pieces

In a double boiler, melt chocolate, Nutella, and butter together until smooth 
 Remove from heat.
Stir in eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into chocolate mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces just until incorporated.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350°F for 13 minutes.  Cool on pans on wire racks for 3 minutes, then remove cookies from sheets and finish cooling directly on the cooling racks.

They looked a little like chocolate pancakes...
I obviously couldn't serve those ugly flat things at a fancy dinner party, so I decided to use cookie cutters to make them pretty!  And my housemates definitely appreciated the leftover scraps...

See?  In the end, they were beautiful AND delicious!  Although I will definitely try this recipe again, and play with increasing the flour and butter to give the cookies real structure.

Thank you to my Boston family for being there when I need you.  You always know that perfect combination of love, food, and alcohol to make any bad week better.  I love you guys.  Here's to many more family dinners (and new cookie recipes) to come!

Love and cookies,

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