When some people refer to March Madness, they’re talking about basketball. When I refer to it, this year, I mean that March (so far) is yielding four posts to Geek Girl Gourmet rather than my sporadic posts whenever I remember to make them!
Today’s post is a sweet treat that has been much in demand since I fumbled into creating it back in 2012. It comes with a story, however, which I’m going to tell because I can and because it was one of my best grad school memories.
One of my professors, Steve Wilson, is as fond of Nutella as any sane person should be, and there were many evenings of class when Nutella would be spoken of by many of us with great affection. And drooling. He even said that when he was teaching in Romania, you could have next to nothing else in your pantry, but if you had a jar of Nutella, you didn’t care about much else.
So one day, I stumbled across a recipe for Nutella chocolate chip cookies that I had to save, and I fully intended to make for one of my two classes with this professor. You see, you made the chocolate chip cookies like normal and then you managed to make a divet in the cookie dough, stuffed it with a dollop of Nutella, then closed the dough around it and baked it that way. Thus you wind up with a surprise of melty Nutella goodness when you bite into the cookie. This seemed like a lot of work, but it sounded amazing, so I wanted to try and make it.
Fast forward to my last semester of grad school. I was in Form and Theory with Steve Wilson, a class that some found trying, but I found challenging and fun. I’d done my thesis and thesis defense, and we were at the very end of the semester, reaching the last evening of class, in fact, and I decided that I wanted to bake something. Especially because it was the evening of everyone’s group presentations, and it would be a good way to go out. With baked goods. And I decided on the Nutella chocolate chip cookies.
Well. To be honest, by that point, I was exhausted, and the idea of stuffing Nutella into all of these individual cookies just made me more tired, so I thought, “Why not chocolate chip cookie bars with a layer of Nutella in between the two cookie layers?” This sounded good and easy and like so much less work that my badly beaten brain could handle it.
I came home from my Tuesday night class ready to make these cookie bars, and I pulled out all of the ingredients…
…only to find that I had no chocolate chips. None. The Roommate offered to run to the store for them, and I told her not to bother. I’d wing it. Somehow.
So, I made up the chocolate chip cookie dough like I normally would, only when I reached the “creamed butter-sugar-vanilla” stage, I decided that when I added the baking soda and salt, I’d also add a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon. After all, cinnamon is GREAT with chocolate. Next, I decided to add two big spoonfuls of Nutella right into the cookie dough itself. Once that was added in, followed by the flour, I determined that this cookie dough was definitely good enough to eat right off the spoon, as any good cookie dough would be. I followed through with my plans of making the cookie bars, spreading one layer of dough on the bottom of the pan, then the Nutella, and finally the remaining cookie dough, and I baked it. Once it cooled down, I cut it into bite-sized pieces, enough to feed a hungry class of grad students (and a Nutella-loving professor), and that was that.
Needless to say, the class (and professor!) loved them, and I didn’t have much leftover to bring home for The Roommate to try. I’ve made these several times and just kept forgetting to put together a post for Geek Girl for them. The Roommate asked me to make them for her potluck tomorrow night, so hopefully, everyone loves them. If not, she’ll bring what’s left over home, and believe me, they won’t go to waste.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2-3 tsp cinnamon
Large jar of Nutella
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Cream butter with the sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add in the Nutella and mix until blended. This is also a good time to add in the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and keep mixing.
Gradually beat in the flour a little at a time so that it doesn’t spray flour everywhere (I say this from all of my flour-covered experience).
At this point, go to your baking pan. Spray liberally with Pam (or grease with butter – whichever you prefer – the point is, let’s make sure these puppies don’t stick to the pan!). Spread your first layer of the cookie dough across the bottom of the pan. Make sure it’s as thick as you can get it (without using all of the dough). Follow this up with a nice thick layer of Nutella. I used a large serving spoon and probably dipped into the jar three times to get the proper amount to spread across. The Nutella doesn’t have to touch the edges, and in fact, it’s better if it doesn’t.
Once the Nutella layer is spread across, add the remaining cookie dough across the top of this. This should touch the edges, thereby pocketing the Nutella neatly inside.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a rich brown. When you take it out of the oven, it will still seem soft and sticky, but that’s fine. It’ll continue baking from the heat of the pan, especially if you sit it on top of the stove, which will remain hot/warm from the oven while it cools down. Once it’s cooled down, cut into small 1-2 inch pieces. Believe me, you’ll be tempted to eat cake-size pieces, but this is so rich that you’ll go into instant sugar-shock if you do.
Enjoy the hell out of these. I haven’t met a person yet who hates them.