Our Whole Foods has a cookie bar. It looks like a salad bar but it’s stocked with cookies. Genius idea. I don’t know what the cookies taste like. Shockingly I’ve never succumbed to their calls. But they look appetizing. No matter how stale they must be. No matter how dry I’m sure they are. Piles of cookies look unbearably good. And seeing a setup that usually holds spinach and arugula replaced by shortbread and chocolate chips just makes the brain short circuit a little.
I saw that phenomenon in action yesterday. As I walked through the dessert section, I watched as a small kid, strapped tightly into his stroller, lost his mind by the cookie bar. He was writhing. And crying. And pointing aggressively. Poor little guy. His mom, in what I would imagine to be typical-Whole-Foods-mom style, was neither swayed by the beauty of the cookie bar nor her son’s frantic pleas. I wanted to slip him a snickerdoodle. I’m always on team cookie.
I didn’t do it. But the encounter did make me count my blessings. Free will is a glorious thing. No. I don’t want a cookie from the Whole Foods cookie bar. But as an adult, it is within my power to eat a cookie whenever I darn well please. I can have cookies for dinner if I want. No one is going to strap me to a stroller and roll me away from my dreams.
An anytime cookie is one of the real pleasures of adulthood. And one that I've been indulging in from the moment I started living on my own. Without fail there is always AP flour, brown sugar, white sugar, and bittersweet chocolate in my pantry. My fridge is always stocked with butter and eggs. I keep those items on the regular shopping list, just like most people do with milk, bread, and kale. I feel safe and happy when I have them. Bittersweet chocolate is my security blanket. My endorphin insurance. With those things within arms reach, I know that a warm chocolate chip cookie is no more than a few minutes away. That’s just minutes to pure comfort and joy. I’m so pleased that I can have that whenever I want.
This week, I’ve got the flu. And I’m dragging. Besides fluids and rest, I’ve also prescribed myself cookies. Makes sense to me! Doesn’t adulthood rule? I haven’t the energy for portioning dough. Thank goodness for blondies.
These blondies are dedicated to that kid in the stroller at Whole Foods. Cookie freedom will come in time, my friend. And it will be sweet.
Butterscotch Blondies with Walnuts and Chocolate
Makes 16 pieces
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan often, until the milk solids turn golden brown and the butter smells wonderfully nutty, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a minute or two. (You don’t want the egg to scramble when you stir it in.) Stir in the brown sugar until smooth. Then stir in the egg and the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture, then half of the chocolate, and half of the walnuts. The batter will be thick.
4. Tip the mixture out into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth the dough to an even thickness. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and walnuts. Bake until the dough is puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center come out with moist crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Using the parchment, lift the bar out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into pieces and serve.