November 29, 2012

12 Days of Cookies: Day the First
( Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars)

The holiday season is here for reals, guys.  Snow flurries are falling, cheeks are rosy, and children are penning letters to Santa.  

Which is why I've barricaded myself in the kitchen, brought eight pounds of butter excruciatingly slowly to room temperature, and covered every person, animal and thing in the house in a fine layer of flour dust.

That's right.  It's cookie time.

Cookie time is a longstanding tradition.  Every year, I make big ol' boxes as gifts for friends, family, and coworkers.  Well, the coworkers actually get a communal tray a few days before holiday break.  That policy was instituted after the great cookie fiasco of 2004, when I made a box with 20 different varieties for each of my 50 employees.  Not recommended.  I didn't get the opportunity to sleep for the whole month of December, and there was a good-sized riot in the break room when it became apparent that we had a Buckeye bandit.

As you might imagine, producing several thousand cookies takes some time, planning, and storage space.  That's where the holiday sacrifice comes into that story.  You see, I own a chest freezer specifically for this reason - a freezer that is currently sitting in my living room, ruining the otherwise-seamless precision of my IKEA-and-hand-me-down decorating scheme.  There's nowhere else in the house to put it.  That's right.  There's a freezer in my living room.  I'm one step away from bathtub gin and tanning my own possum skins, guys.  But I do it for my friends and family.  It's like The Gift of the Freakin' Magi in here.  You're welcome, loved ones.

I'd like to give you all a gift, too, but there's quite a few of you.  And you live in a lot of different places.  And maybe you have qualms about accepting food from someone who might rudely but accurately be called paranoid, irrational, and vindictive.  So instead, I thought I'd share my favorite recipes from this year's batch with you.  12 straight (week)days of cookies.  Less talk, more sugar, starting today.  Happy holidays, all.  Hope this helps you bring a little extra sweetness to the season.

Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars
from Fine Cooking

I could say all kinds of superlative stuff about these brownies, but I think the most accurate way to explain them is: Stupid Good.  These are delightfully dark and dense brownies, topped with pecan pie filling, or what pecan pie filling would be if it was awesomer, and not as messy, and filled with coconut and macadamias.  And, really, they're incredibly easy to make - but that won't stop people from thinking you're a genious genius.  Yes, I just misspelled the word genius.  Irony.  It's what I do.

Unsalted Butter  [ 12 tablespoons, cut into large chunks ]
Sugar  [ 1 1/2 cups ]
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder  [ 3/4 cup ]
Salt  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Eggs  [ 2, large ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Unbleached All-Purpose Flour  [ 3/4 cup ]

Light Brown Sugar  [ firmly packed, 1/2 cup ]
Unbleached All-Purpose Flour  [ 1/3 cup ]
Light Corn Syrup  [ 2/3 cup ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 3 tablespoons, melted ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 1/2 teaspoons ]
Eggs  [ 2, large ]
Salted Macadamia Nuts  [ roughly chopped, 1 1/2 cups ]
Sweetened Coconut Flakes  [ 1/3 cup ]

1.   Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2.   Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil.  [ I do this with all my bar cookies.  Why wouldn't you make
      life easier on yourself? ]  Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.
3.   In a medium pot over medium heat, melt Butter.
4.   Take pot off of heat and whisk in Sugar, Cocoa Powder, and Salt.  Continue whisking until all ingredients are
5.   Whisk in Eggs and Vanilla until mixture is smooth.
6.   Stir in Flour.
7.   Pour/scrape mixture into lined and sprayed pan.
8.   Bake until partially baked, about 2o minutes.  The top will look shiny and dry, and the brownie will spring
         back a very teeny bit if you poke it gently with your finger.
9.   Set pan on a cooling rack and leave oven on while you prepare the Macadamia Topping.

10.   In a bowl, whisk together Brown Sugar and Flour until no clumps remain.
11.   Whisk in Corn Syrup, Butter, and Vanilla until blended.
12.   Whisk in Eggs until just combined, stopping before mixture becomes foamy.
13.   Stir in Macadamia Nuts and Coconut.
14.   Pour Macadamia Topping over still-warm Brownie Layer.  Spread evenly with a spatula if necessary.
15.   Bake until Macadamia Topping is golden brown [this will take 37-40 minutes].
16.   Set pan on a cooling rack to cool completely before cutting. 

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