Monday, June 6, 2011

New and Improved

I'm something of a cynic. When companies advertise a product as "New and Improved!!," it always smacks to me of a desperate attempt to palm off a shoddy piece of goods, claiming, "It's not nearly as nasty as it used to be!" If it wasn't broken in the first place, why fix it?

There are some recipes in my repertoire that I would never dream of tinkering with. Why mess with perfection? But sometimes, life happens and where before you had perfection, you now have something you never dreamed possible - an improvement.

I've been struggling with what to do for my kids' teachers for a year-end thank you gift. I homeschool my kids (and, no, I'm not looking for an excuse to buy myself another cookbook), but I also take them once a week to a homeschool co-op. The excellent teachers who've been trying all year to instruct my children deserve at least a little thank you.

It wasn't until the last day of class that I decided what to do. Cookies. (Well, duh, I really should have thought of that weeks ago.) I woke up early and assessed that I had enough time to bake a batch of my Fabulous Brownie Cookies. They're easy and have a good effort to results ratio. So at 5:30 in the morning I'm melting chocolate, measuring flour, getting the eggs out, and, oh, giant leaping dust bunnies! The recipe calls for 4 eggs and I only have 3!

A quick internet search provided multiple options for egg substitutions (most of them nasty), but fruit puree sounded promising. Since I'd had such good results using date puree in these cookies, I decided to go with that. A quick 20 minute soak of the dates, pureeing with my hand-held blender, and I was back on track.

We have to be out the door at 8:00 and at 7:30, the kids were scarfing down breakfast while I was stamping white paper bags, stuffing them with cookies, tying on bows, still in my pajamas. Miraculously, we made it out the door on time. And the cookies? Really good. In fact, really, really good. Still deliciously rich, chocolatey, and brownielike, but with an added depth of flavor and an extra oomph of texture, these are clear winners. So I guess new and improved doesn't always mean "less nasty." Sometimes it really does mean "more fabulous!"

Even More Fabulous Brownie Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp date puree*
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

*Directions for making your own date purée here.

In a large, heavy saucepan combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, and 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter and chocolate melt; set aside and cool.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Beat eggs sugar, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating well. Add chocolate mixture; beat well. Stir in remaining 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips and pecans. I used my medium scoop (1-3/4" across) to drop blobs of dough (about 2 Tbsp) 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Don't overbake - the cookies should just loose their sheen on top, but still be moist. Let them set on the cookie sheets for a few minutes (they will continue to bake a bit), then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


Sara said...

These cookies sounds delicious, and I love the cute little bags! Sounds like the perfect gift for teachers. :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gosh, wish I was a teacher.
More fabulous indeed!

Colleen said...

These look delicious!! I am quite impressed with your time management too. :) Well done all around!

Jennifurla said...

I love the little bags of goodness.

Melinda said...

Excellent noggin thinking! They do look delicious. And aren't your gift bags pretty!

Katie said...

I bet the teachers loved the cookies. Such a nice touch. I often find myself baking earky in the mornings too, its quite tranquil with no one else around. I adore those cookie bags - just beautiful

Barbara said...

Date puree? Very unusual. I'd love to be a teacher and receive a bag of these!

grace said...

i've always been baffled as to how something could be both new and improved. regardless, the cookies sound great! :)

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Those sure sound amazing. And I agree with Grace above, it's either new, or improved! How on earth do they claim both??

bellini said...

If only I was at the receiving end of these Lynn.

Jannett said...

These do sound the bags... ;o)

Elle said...

Lucky teachers...and yummy looking cookies, too. I often add applesauce instead of some oil or egg. This sounds like an even better substitution!

The Honey Nut said...

Ohhh these look interesting! I have never tried to make cookies with date puree, but these certainly look delicious! I love whenever I can find healthy substitutions that actually taste good :)