There are nights where I’m confounded by the thought: brownies or chocolate chip cookies? I draw on all of my mental tricks to puzzle through this conundrum. First, I close my eyes and imagine a plate of one or the other being put in front of me. How do I feel? Happy? Or a tiny bit disappointed? This usually works. It’s the same trick I use at a restaurant when I can’t decide between the warm chocolate souffle cake or the… well… bad example. Nothing ever beats out a warm chocolate souffle cake.
The point is, these two entities battle it out on a regular basis in my kitchen. Frankly, the chocolate chip cookies usually win. I’ve grown up on chocolate chip cookies. I think they were one of the first things my brother and I ever learned to bake from scratch. We had a hand-written recipe taped to the inside of our yellow kitchen cabinet for years and years and we never strayed from that recipe. I wish we still had that little slip of paper. It seems somehow important now, imbued with historical significance.
When my family gathers together for any reason, I usually set two sticks of butter out on the counter as an encouragement to my brother. Make chocolate chip cookies. On the night of his arrival, I’ll ask my mom in a panicky tone, “Did you buy the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies?”
“Yes, we have everything we need.”
Such security and comfort in those words.
This week’s recipe seemed like the perfect resolution. Here it was, a dessert that combines chocolate chip cookies and brownies. No more staring into the pantry, trying to divine my deepest desires. Let’s have both!
But you know, it’s just not that easy. I liked these brownies. They’re delicious. I gave these brownies the kind of treatment reserved for my most cherished desserts: i.e. eat a generous piece in the living room; return to pan of brownies in the kitchen, ostensibly to cover it with plastic wrap; notice a jagged edge; slice the edge so it’s even; notice that the brownie edge on the other side of the pan was cut at an odd angle; straighten the edge so its square…. My favorite part is the soft, warm center of brownies, not the crusty edges, so I tend to create an ever-widening square in the very center of the pan. (Needless to say, each of the slivers that comes from a perfectly carved edge goes straight into my mouth; otherwise, really, what’s the point?)
But the chocolate chip cookie vs. brownie conundrum will not be put to rest by this hybrid dessert. I don’t know, I think I like it that way. Each one is a perfect dessert all on its own, and if, at the end of the day, I have the privilege of agonizing over which one to bake, I’ll take it.
By all means, make these chipster-topped brownies and judge for yourself. Maybe some of my fellow bakers with deep inner conflicts will finally find peace. They’re even better with ice cream and hot fudge on top. For the recipe, check out Beth’s blog, Supplicious, or pp. 94-95 of Dorie’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.