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Boredom Baking

February 11, 2011

You’d think with all this “free” time I have on my hands now as a SAHM, I’d be getting oodles accomplished around the house. The laundry would always be clean, the house would be sparkling and I’d have some of our home improvement projects finished.

But, no. Instead of using my free time to actually get things accomplished around the house, I spend it in a different way.

Baking.

More specifically, what I like to call Boredom Baking. Wherein I’ll throw something together (usually cookies) because I either don’t have anything else to do, or I’m avoiding something (like cleaning or laundry or exercising).

I think things will improve as it gets warmer and the kids and I can spend more time outside, but with temps in the single (and negative) digits this week, we were all going a little stir crazy.

It all started because of Storytime on Wednesday.

The kidlet got a little packet of hot chocolate at Storytime, which she insisted on having with lunch as soon as we got home. And, naturally, she wanted marshmallows to go with her hot chocolate. Well, the marshmallows are in my “baking” cupboard, and once I opened it to dig out the marshmallows and saw all the bags of chocolate chips I have stashed away, I thought to myself “hmm… it’s been a good five days since I’ve made cookies. I think I need to bake!”

This is what that cabinet looks like:

It’s about an 18″ wide space that’s packed with baking goodies. It’s even depleted somewhat, due to the four different kinds of cookies I’ve made the past three weeks.

As I pondered the contents of the cupboard, I noticed the half-bag of Heath toffee chips nestled in between the M’n’M’s and the bag of walnuts. And then I remembered I had a little bag of Halloween-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars I’d been saving with the intent to use them in a baked good at some point in the year (or eat them all in a fit of hormone-induced frenzy).

And then, an plan began to take form. What if I used my basic chocolate chip recipe, but added the Heath toffee bits and chopped up Hershey’s bars? It was genius!

I started with two sticks of softened butter and added one cup of sugar and one cup of packed brown sugar, mixing well.

Add two eggs (realizing it’s extremely difficult to take a picture of you cracking an egg with your non-dominant hand)

and two teaspoons of vanilla.

This is where I start to deviate from the recipe. I tend to do that a lot with things. I like to call it “winging it.” Lately, I’ve been substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour in recipes. Sometimes just a cup, sometimes more, and I like it! Whole wheat flour is a little more dense, so I’m learning that sometimes I need to cut back on the a-p flour slightly, but the difference in texture and flavor is nice. It’s usually subtle, but it’s there.

I added one cup of whole wheat flour

and then added two teaspoons of baking soda

and one teaspoon of salt

along with the rest (two and a half cups) of all-purpose flour.

This is one of those times where I realized (belatedly) that I could cut back slightly on the all-purpose flour because I subbed in the whole wheat flour. By the time I finished mixing in all the flour, the dough was very stiff and my mixer was protesting.

And then I did something that turned my idea from simply genius into Evil Genius territory.

Inspired (or maybe influenced) by a tweet from The Pioneer Woman where she referenced Nutella, I remembered I had an entire jar of the stuff in the cupboard. Why not add some to the cookie dough? The chocolatey, hazelnutty goodness could only make it better, right? Right.

Now, if I would have thought of adding the Nutella earlier, I definitely would have done so. It would have been much easier to add it with the wet ingredients at the beginning of the dough as opposed to the end when the dough was extremely stiff from all the flour and my mixer was ready to go on strike. Next time, I guess….

Then it was time to add the chips/bits/chocolate chunks/whatever.

I had about ten mini candy bars left over from Halloween.

which I unwrapped and chopped into chunks (it ended up being about 1 cup total)

and added to the bowl where I’d already tossed in the rest of the bag of Heath bits.

And stirred it all up. Man, if my arms aren’t buff from lugging around a 40-lb kidlet all day, they will be if I keep making cookies like these.

Hello love.

I used a small scoop and parchment lined baking sheets. At no time did I ever take a scoop of dough and pop it straight into my mouth instead of on the sheet. I would never be that uncouth. Instead, I ate it straight from the bowl with a spoon, like any normal person.

Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes or until golden. I like them a little soft in the center still, so when they cool, they’re still a bit gooey and chewy in the middle.

These were awesome. I mean, I know I say that about almost every cookie, but these were truly awesome (not to be confused with Jem, who is truly outrageous – though these cookies could be considered that as well. Does anyone else remember that cartoon? I so wanted to be Jem when I was little. Anyway. I digress…).

The chocolate chunks and Heath bits worked well together, and the Nutella added just enough color and cocoa/hazelnut flavor to separate them from regular chocolate chip cookies. I think I’d probably add a little more the next time, just for more flavor, but the hub thought they were just fine as they were. The batch makes right around four dozen cookies. Some got immediately put into a bag in the freezer, some got put away for the hub to take to his next track meet and the rest we ate. They’re gone, natch.

Here’s the recipe, with my alterations

Nutella Heath Chocolate Chunk cookies

2 sticks butter, soft
1 c. sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1/3 c. nutella (I used closer to 1/4 c., which worked as well)
3 1/2 c. flour (I substituted 1 c. whole wheat, could probably cut back to 3 1/4 or just 3 c total if using a combination of wheat/all-purpose flour)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. Heath toffee bits
1 c. chopped milk chocolate bar (or chocolate chunks)

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla and Nutella, mixing well after each. Add flour, soda and salt, mixing well – dough will be stiff. Stir in Heath bits and chocolate chunks. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes, until golden. Try not to hide and hoard them all for yourself.

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