Tuesday, March 8, 2011
You Do The Math
When you say, "It's March!" people have different reactions. Some will run to the grocery store parking lot to stock up on Girl Scout Cookies. Others will get excited and wave team pennants for March Madness. Me? I cringe, shudder, and try to curl up into a small ball in the corner because I have to do taxes.
When I say "do taxes" I'm not even talking about the taxes for the whole family. No, my responsibility is only for the information pertaining to my small business (come by some time and I'll make your skin feel soft and you feel beautiful). Even though I've been doing this for years and have yet to be put on the rack or in the iron maiden, I have a disproportionate dread of the task. I've finally nailed my routine for how to do it.
First of all, I procrastinate for as long as it's physically possible. When my husband's polite questions turn into firm statements like, "I really need your part of the taxes so I can get this done," then I put a date on the calendar. I have to dedicate a day to it without interruption, or I know it won't happen.
Then, on the scheduled day, I procrastinate for as long as possible. This is an excellent day for cleaning the tub, changing sheets, shaving my legs, and getting my workout done.
Finally, when I can put it off no longer, I organize all my paperwork and supplies on the dining room table. Paperwork which I hope is all there, because I'm a little bit sloppy about paperwork. No, I'm actually a lot lazy about paperwork (adding to the stress). And by supplies I mean a pen, a pencil, scratch paper, a calculator, and stress munchies.
And before I embark into the treacherous waters of the 1040 schedule C, I must decide on a carrot. Do I want a new cookbook? Will I treat myself to a video? I hadn't baked cookies in a while, so I decided to bake cookies just for fun as my reward.
I plowed through the onerous task, finished in under 3 hours (probably less, but it felt longer) and still had time to make cookies. I played with a recipe from my archives and came up with a very stiff dough. I wasn't sure how it would bake up, so I pressed it into a square pan. After baking, I debated whether or not to dress it up with glaze, or fancy it up with layers. Laziness won and I just cut into the bars. Good choice.
This is comfort food, pure and simple. The dense dough makes a moist, slightly chewy background for the dark chocolate chunks. I pick up bars, examining the cut sides for the biggest chunks of chocolate. (I know, not polite. But they're my reward, so I can do what I want with them.) Also, I'm not normally a fan of cinnamon with chocolate, but the small amount here works extraordinarily well, giving the flavor a tantalizing complexity.
Perhaps since I sailed through this year's taxes, I'll be much calmer about it next year. Yeah, right. I think I'll keep this recipe handy, just in case I need carb tranquilizing again.
Chocolate Chunk Reward Bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
8 oz coarsely chopped dark chocolate (in the 60 to 70% range)
1- Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Spray an 8x8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
2- In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute until well blended.
3- Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
4- Put the dough (which should be quite stiff) into the baking pan. Using a rubber spatula, or your hands, press the dough down evenly.
5- Bake 12 - 15 minutes, until the top looks completely set. Allow to cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Slice into bars when cooled all the way.
* If you only have regular rolled oats on hand, you can easily make your own quick-cooking oats. Just toss them into a food processor and pulse it a few times. The only difference between the two kinds of oats is the size of the flakes.