the saying goes,”once you give homemade food to students, you will be expected to do that forever.”
i was told that when i started my current job. i disclosed i was an avid baker and foodie, and my colleagues around the table jokingly said,”unless you want students to expect baked goods from you, you might not want to publicize that to them.”
heading into my third year in my current job, they were so right. i made one batch of cupcakes in my first semester here, and the requests for baked goods came spilling in. “so, g-rae, when are you baking for us again?”
“g-rae, remember those cupcakes you made for us? they were so good! when are you making them again?”
“[staff meeting, event, program, my birthday, etc] is coming up! are you going to bake something?”
they all said something to that effect.
that doesn’t change in the summer. the summer students that know me still say the same things. and, the ones that don’t know me come up to me and say,”so, i hear your baking is amazing!” with that hinthintnudgenudge look on their face.
so, this decadent chocolate chocolate chip cookie bar with salted caramel sauce is for them. because, i like my identity as baker/foodie. and, food has been the initial connection for so many students i’ve met here.
and, that’s not a bad thing. not at all.
yield 24 cookie bar squares and 1 cup of caramel sauce
for cookie bars
1 cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ cup cocoa powder
1½ cups flour
1 cup semi-chocolate chocolate chips
preheat oven to 350. spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream shortening and sugar. beat in eggs and vanilla. add salt, baking soda, and cocoa. mix well. add flour and mix just until just combined. sprinkle in chocolate chips and fold in with a spatula.
spread batter into prepared baking pan. bake for about 25 minutes. allow to cool before cutting into squares and drizzling with salted caramel sauce.
for salted caramel sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
scant 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt sugar. whisk sugar until it is completely melted. there will be lumps, but they will melt down. cook the sugar until it is a deep amber color. this happens fast once the sugar is melted, so do not leave it alone.
slowly add the butter once the sugar is a deep amber color. mix until butter is melted and combined. take the pan off the heat. slowly whisk in the heavy cream until incorporated. continue to mix until the caramel is smooth. add in sea salt.
allow the caramel sauce cool in the pan for a few minutes. then, transfer it to a jar to cool to room temperature. if you’ve made the cookie bars, drizzle room temperature sauce on top of your cookie and devour. leftover sauce should be stored in the fridge.