Monday, July 15, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

I've been on quite a cookie dough frenzy lately.

I mean how can you not be??? 

Cookie dough, by definition, is absolute BLISS. It's basically just butter and sugar....and you gotta love those two ingredients. But cookie dough ON TOP OF A BROWNIE?????? Umm...yummmmm! This recipe is so sinfully delicious, and I promise everyone will be asking you for it once they take the first bite. The bottom layer is a super fudgey, rich, densely chocolatey brownie (no cakey texture here! Just the way I like it!), and the cookie dough is wonderfully buttery, vanilla-y, and everything you believe the perfect cookie dough should taste like. And, just like my incredibly delicious cookie dough cheesecake bars here, the cookie dough is eggless, so you can eat as much as your little tummy pleases(:

I brought these treats to a party at my school and they were declared "little squares of heaven." My friend is now seriously OBSESSED with them and goes insane and drools whenever someone mentions them. As do I.

Don't believe me? Try them yourself.

Yield: 16 brownies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
additional miniature chocolate chips, if desired (to garnish the top)

Prepare the brownie layer:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x9-inch pan with nonstick spray, then line with a strip of parchment paper so that it covers the bottom and comes up two sides of the pan. Spray the parchment with nonstick spray too.
2. In a microwave safe bowl (or in the top of a double boiler or pan set on top of a pan of simmering water), microwave in 30 second bursts to melt butter and chocolate chips together until all is melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugars, then whisk in the eggs, vanilla and salt. Sift flour into the bowl and stir that in too. Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the brownie layer is cooked through (toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Place the pan of brownies in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process (or cool at room temperature and add the cookie dough layer later).

Prepare the cookie dough layer:
3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter, sugars and salt until soft and creamy (2 minutes). Mix in the milk and vanilla. Sprinkle in the flour and mix in until combined. Stir in the 1 cup of chocolate chips. Scoop the cookie dough onto the top of the brownies and spread onto the brownie layer. I find that it's easiest to do this if the brownie layer is chilled and firm. Wet your hands or spray them with nonstick spray and pat the cookie dough on top in a even layer. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top to create a nicer, visual appearance. For easy, clean cutting, chill the brownies (wrap the brownies with plastic wrap and chill until firm- 1 to 2 hours or up to 2 days).
4. Cut the brownies: Run a knife along the sides of the brownie pan and then use the parchment paper to lift the brownies from the pan and onto a cutting board. Slice the brownies with a sharp knife, wiping the knife with a paper towel between cuts. If you'd like all of your slices of brownies to look clean-cut without edges, use the knife to cut the sides of the brownies off before cutting pieces. Keep brownies slices covered and chilled until ready to serve.

Note: these taste most delicious just slightly cool (after about an hour of thawing at room temperature) or completely at room temperature (at least two hours of thawing), or my personal favorite: warmed up in the microwave until gooey and amazingly delicious.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

First off, I sincerely apologize for not blogging in such a long time. The end of my junior year in high school was...well - INSANE. But now it's summer! And all my hard work was totally worth it. Now I am officially a senior! 

You wanna know what I'm pumped about the most for this summer? BAKING! So my first post of the summer is this absolutely incredible recipe for cookie dough cheesecake bars. Oh my goodness, are they something magical. These scrumptious treats are the perfect combination of cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough. Can you even think of a more amazing pairing? I sure can't. I brought a full pan of these to a cross country party and they literally vanished before I could even blink. I guess you could say my parents were more than a little disappointed that I came home with an empty tray...

The recipe begins with a fool-proof, classic graham cracker crust. Above the crust lies another perfect, creamy layer of luscious cheesecake, wonderfully vanilla-y and delicious. Last but not least, my personal favorite layer is at the top: the cookie dough. Ahh cookie love...buttery and brown-sugary and studded with chocolate chips....can you say YUM??? This cookie dough is egg-less, so it's safe to eat (yes, by the spoonful if you wish). Together, the three layers form this heavenly dessert that you won't be able to resist.

Yield: about 12 bars

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cookie Dough
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cheesecake Filling
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil allowing a little overhang and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Mix the melted butter, cinnamon, and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Leave your oven on while you prepare the dough.
3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside. (Note: if the cookie dough looks a little dry, it's fine. It will be crumbled on top of the cheesecake layer.)
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Use your hands to form "clumps" of the cookie dough, smoosh it together and flatten it out.  Distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter in teaspoon-sized clumps. Be sure to use all of the dough.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight or for at least a couple hours.
6. Lift the bars out by the overhang and cut into squares for serving.

**Note: these taste best at room temperature.