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black and white gooey brownies

I’ve been really interested in white chocolate lately, especially after reading this review for Trader Joe’s white baking chocolate. I found the baking squares by the register, but a cashier warned me not to buy them, for the non-vague reason that “they’re disgusting.” She actually opened a package for me to sample some, while I resisted the urge to reply, “YOU’RE disgusting.” She was kinda right about the chocolate, by the way. So I asked if they had white chocolate chips or chunks or anything else, and was told no, because those things are seasonal. This is another one of Trader Joe’s “we don’t live on the same plane as you” things. Apparently people don’t want white chocolate when it’s not Christmas, just like people apparently don’t need booze on Sunday mornings. Maybe you’d make more money if you abandoned those silly notions, TJ.

Long story long, I bought white chocolate chips at a regular grocery store. Now, the thing to keep in mind about white chocolate is that not everyone is into it (like, for example, the cashier at TJs.) It’s extremely sweet, for one thing. And it bears the name “chocolate” when that’s not really what it is, or what it tastes like. (Kind of like the whole Hersheys line. Cadburys or die!) In my opinion, white chocolate is best when swirled with dark or bitter chocolate, or at least semi-sweet. If you can strike the right balance, the white chocolate haters will get on board.

Here’s what I recommend:

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triple-chocolate double-cookie bars

This sounds excessive…but I can explain.

Saturday was a very rainy, dreary night out in Chicago. And still I dared attend an (all-ages) show at Congress Theater. Thank you, Girl Talk, for being more than worth it. We danced the night away, which was exhilarating, but I had a less-than-fantastic time hailing a cab in completely rain-soaked, beer-drenched (this is why I mentioned the all-ages factor. I shake my fist at you, children!) clothes. By the time I finally burst through the door back home, all I could think about was a scalding-hot shower and something comforting to eat. I only managed the former.

This means I went to bed slightly hungry, with happily sore feet and “Triple Double” still pounding in my head. Are you surprised I thought of this when I woke up?

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the buzz

The week after my grandmother passed away, we all spent a lot of time in her house—going through photo albums, having dinner together, keeping my grandfather company (or, truth be told, finding comfort in being with him). Since she was, as Grandpa says, the home engineer, there was never much need for the rest of us to know where she kept everything. We spent a lot of time opening the wrong drawers and cabinets, trying to find table cloths or wine glasses or serving spoons. Wondering how she always made entertaining look so easy.

Once we’d find something we’d been looking for, however, it was easy to imagine her using it. Rather than a lonely stillness throughout the house, I sensed her presence.

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gooey joe joe brownies

I have found The One. Brownie recipe, that is. It’s this one, because it starts with the word gooey.

It doesn’t mean I don’t let my mind wander, though. I recently saw this recipe for brownies with an Oreo crust, and was tempted. I still had some vanilla Joe Joes in the pantry from the Chocolate Joe Joe Cookies, and enough chocolate to rot my teeth just from looking at it. Before I knew it, Gooey Joe Joe Brownies were happening.

ingreeds: Flour choice is key with Gooey Brownies. The first time I made them, I only had whole wheat flour in the house (Gold Medal whole wheat, specifically) and worried they’d be mealy and gross. They weren’t, though…in fact I liked the effect so much I’ve used this flour every time since. The batter is so creamy (sweetened condensed milk and melted butter and melted chocolate…) that the bit of extra texture from the flour really works. Speaking of, this is a great read if you’re choosy about flour. CI is right that Gold Medal is blah, but I promise it won’t be a problem with these brownies. (Choose King Arthur for good whole wheat bread, pancakes, biscuits, etc., though.)

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chocolate joe joe cookies

This Bardsley project is dedicated to my dear friend Meredith, all the way back home on the East Coast. As Meredith is one of the most beautiful people I know—inside and out—it’s only fitting that her cookie is two treats in one.

Mere brought my attention to these Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies the other day. It felt like a natural transition for me—when I brought orange-cream Oreo Cookie Cookies to a Halloween party this fall, I heard a lot of reactions (some more polite than others) to the fact that the Oreos weren’t mashed very finely. (I just like big, chunky bites of cookie in my cookies; what can I say?) The intact-Oreo concept was inevitable…but I had the urge to turn this recipe inside-out.

So, here’s to you, Meredith! Excellent find.

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speckled cable hat

photo by chandana reddy

My favorite thing about hats, besides the fact that you only have to style the lower half of your hair if you wear one regularly, is that you can knit one with only one skein. They’re fast projects, so you can make a whole bunch and change your “head sweater” every day if you want. I’m drawn to chunky, textured styles in particular.

This winter I made two from my favorite knitting book, Hattitude, and you can check them out on my Ravelry page (my name is kn1tfaced). One of them is cute, and the other didn’t turn out quite right. I’ll have to expand on that in another post…

This pattern actually didn’t come from Hattitude; it’s the “Chunky Cable Hat” from Ravelry member Emily Wessel. It was very easy to follow, and a single (size-10.5) DPN made a perfect cable needle.

the twist: I did go with a narrow brim (70 stitches around) and a wider body of the hat (80). I had to recalculate the decreasing pattern accordingly, but that wasn’t hard to do, and it gave the hat a big more height.

oreo or nothing

If forced to pick my favorite treat to bake, it would be Oreo Cookie Cookies from Sugar Cooking. I doubt I’d ever be forced to do that, unless by the same gun-wielding villain who forced me to eat 30 butt-pounds’ worth of them in college. Trauma aside, it was with great delight that I found the recipe last year.

The first time I made these, I brought them to my “book” (wine) club, and before long we were all showing off our black- and wine-stained teeth as we passionately discussed the symbolism, characterization, and irony of everything in our lives other than the book in question.

the twist: I prefer to bake them into bars rather than cookies, as the recipe suggests. In a pan, they stay gooier, and you can cut them into large, thick diabetes slabs like you see on display at Starbucks.

ingreeds: I’ve made them with orange-cream Oreos for a Halloween party (don’t bong bourbon on an empty stomach!), and with red-cream ones for the holidays (the proceeds went to the purchase of a Knitting Basket from Heifer International).

Give them a try! They’re my go-to cookie treat, and the starting point for a lot of my dessert experiments. Stay tuned…