Happy Birthday To Mom...

My parents are notoriously hard to shop for; they have everything they need, and they're capable of buying anything they want for themselves. As a result, I've more or less given up on buying them presents for special occasions. Instead, I rely on one of my skills to do something they either cannot or will not do for themselves -- bake. Today, to celebrate Mom's birthday, I baked a batch of her favorite cookies, just the way she likes them.

These chocolate brownie cookies are the kind of thing I'd almost be embarrassed to admit to making in the presence of foodie elitists. The recipe comes from a Baker's chocolate promotion -- Baker's, those waxy squares of "baking chocolate" that have rapidly fallen out of favor with the baking cognoscenti. If you think about it, it makes sense: why would you cook with an ingredient that you wouldn't deign to eat on its own? Nowadays, I use mainly Ghirardelli chocolate for baking, but I keep a couple boxes of Baker's hidden in the back of the cabinet, just for this recipe. As much as I might be shamed to admit it, these cookies are insanely good. They are incredibly rich, and they truly taste just like brownies that were baked free-form on a cookie sheet instead of poured into a pan. I prefer them with the walnuts that the recipe calls for, but it's Mom's birthday, so the birthday girl gets what the birthday girl likes -- pecans. Even if you don't have a special reason to indulge, I still suggest you slum it a little bit and bake a batch. Nobody has to know what's in them unless you tell them, and trust me, these cookies are so delicious that the ingredients will be the last thing on anyone's mind.

Yes, I am fully aware of what this picture looks like. Given our family's fondness for poop humor, they're somewhat of an appropriate gift. Happy Birthday Mom!

One-Bowl Chocolate Brownie Cookies
adapted from a Baker's Chocolate advertisement

6 squares Baker's semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
4 squares Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp butter or margarine, cut into medium dice
2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325.
1. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large bowl on high, 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
2. Stir sugar into chocolate until blended. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in nuts.
3. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
4. Bake 12 minutes or until set. Do not overbake!
5. Cool 5 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely on wire racks.

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