Matt loves brownies. He used to make two batches almost every Sunday. One tray for us and one tray for his Scoutmaster. His Scoutmaster was trying to get him to finish off the last requirement for Matt's last merit badge so he could get his Eagle and thought that having to make brownies every week would be the deal-breaker and he'd get 'er done. Yeah, whatever. Matt loves brownies and enjoys cooking so it wasn't really a punishment BUT we did get treats every Sunday.
Yesterday I was looking around on Pinterest for a new cookie recipe to try for Matt and when I stumbled upon this little gem, I knew it was just perfect. This Brownie Cookie recipe comes from Pure & Yummy (pureandyummy.com) and is oh, so yummy. I love how they stay soft and chewy in the center but the outside edges get slightly crispy just like the 'big' brownies do. Side note: You know how when you're taking brownies or lemon bars over to someone's house and you cut off all the edges so you can take just the nice looking center cuts to the neighbor's? I tell my kids it's because it makes them look nicer on the tray but that's not really it...I want to eat all the edges myself. The truth comes out. Good thing my kids don't read my blog, eh?
1/2 cup butter
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided in half
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
(yield: 90 cookies*)
Chop the unsweetened chocolate into pieces. You can leave this on the paper that it comes wrapped in (the inner one not the outer packaging - grin) and just chop away. Then carefully lift the paper off and slide everything into your pan.
Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter and chocolate melt. Chocolate burns easily so don't get excited and try doing this over high heat or walk off to answer the phone. You could probably do this step in the microwave. Start out with one minute on high, then remove and stir and continue heating in 30 second increments, stirring in between until mixture is entirely melted and smooth. Let cool completely.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add dry ingredients to the egg mixture, beating well. Add chocolate mixture and beat well. Make sure that your chocolate mixture is completely cool or your batter will be really thin. IF you got a little excited and added the chocolate before it was totally cool, don't worry. It will still work, just stick it in the fridge or let it sit on the counter for a bit. As the chocolate starts to set up again, your batter will thicken. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. If your batter still seems a little thin, do NOT add extra flour. They will be just fine. I promise. You could stick your batter in the fridge for a bit if it's driving you crazy but you might need to adjust the cooking time.
*Scoop dough onto baking sheets one inch apart. (I like to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper. You can use the same piece of paper for the whole batch of cookies. Don't change the paper every time. The cookies come off the paper really easy and when you're finished, you just wad up the paper keeping the crumbs inside and stick it in the garbage. The biggest perk is...you don't have to wash your cookie sheet! Yay! It doesn't take much to get me excited around here, does it?...sad.) Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
*I like to use a small scoop for my cookies. Baked cookies will measure about 2 inches.
So, now a bit about packaging:
I still love sending cookies in the decorated Pringle's cans...but...is it just me?...or does it make you a little crazy that each mission is different? With Mason I could call the mission home the day after transfers and see if he had moved and they would give me his new companion's name and his new address and I ALWAYS mailed his mail AND packages straight to his apartment. Yeah. Matt's mission is different. Everything. EVERYTHING has to go through the mission home. Mail. Packages. Everything. So I called the mission home and the cute little old sister missionary informed me that she is very good at forwarding every single stitch of mail the following day to the missionaries. Packages however, get to sit at the mission home until the Zone Leaders come in to pick them up which is about once a month. ONCE A MONTH?!?! Grrrrrr...... (Hang in there with me. My rampage is just about over and there will be a happy ending...) So because of all that other "stuff" I've changed how I mail some of my packages. Cookies being one of them.
When I called the mission home, the cute sister lady mentioned to me that the post office WILL forward the 'small flat rate' boxes (the ones that are about the size of the old VHS tapes) but they WON'T forward anything larger than that. So I've started to send a lot of smaller packages instead so Matt will get them faster. An added perk is that they only cost $5.80 to mail. Yup. Jeff's smilin' at that one! Here's how I do it:
Line your box with tissue paper. Fold it so it will fit nicely which not only looks better but will also give your cookies a little extra padding. Place some packing material around the outside edges with maybe a little on the bottom. You won't need much on the bottom because your syran wrap around the cookies will be folded underneath. You'll see. Read on...
Take two cookies and place them flat sides together.
Using a square of syran wrap, roll the cookies up then tuck the ends under. You could tuck one under and wrap the other end over but that wouldn't look as good and I'm into aesthetics...either that or I have OCD. Probably the later...
Place the cookies in the box. You should have room for six two-packs or one dozen cookies. Because each box was so inexpensive to mail, I just mailed Matt's companion his very own box. What missionary needs more than a dozen cookies at a time? Place some more packing material over the top and in-between each cookie pack, then put in a letter. Here's why...
When Matt arrived in the mission field, he was assigned a companion and they were sent to a brand new area. No investigators. No records. Nada. Their apartment wasn't even ready yet so they spent the first week on the floor of the Zone Leaders' apartment. We at home, are busy sending lots of letters and packages. (Hey, I served a mission. I remember vividly just how hard the first bit is. Letters/packages from home keep your spirit's up and remind you that you are not alone nor forgotten.) We had sent one large package to Matt and one large package to his companion. (click here for the Greenie Package and here for the Missionary Trainer Survival Kit) One month later we found out that neither of these missionary's were receiving any mail. The mission home had their new address wrong! All of their mail was being forwarded and then 'returned to sender' because of a wrong address. I can't even imagine going that long without anything from home. The only thing that they had received were the two large packages that I had mailed to each of them because they couldn't be forwarded and had to wait for the Zone Leaders to pick up and personally deliver. Here's where the letter comes in...When Mason was on his mission I never, ever included a letter in his packages. I always included a cute little package topper and jotted a few lines on the back but that was it. Never a letter. That was reserved for another piece of mail. Gotta' spread out the love, if you know what I mean. This time. This ONE time, I actually wrote a letter. Three pages. I did not know at the time that this would be the only actual letter that Matt would receive for over thirty days, but someone did. I am so grateful that I included a letter with that package. Now I always include a letter. It's not three pages every time, but it's important, so I do it. I encourage you to as well...
Sorry...I'm very long-winded on this one aren't I?
Fold the tissue over the cookies and place your topper on top. I couldn't provide a printable for you this time because I'm sure that "Cookie Monster" is copyrighted and they are probably just 'big' enough to take it personally but it was really easy to do and you could easily make your own. Just Google 'Cookie Monster' and cut and paste one into your document. Easy peasy and oh, so cute! Enjoy and I hope your missionary never, ever has to go a whole month without mail. On a side note: Matt did receive emails just not 'snail mail.'