Bourbon Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Bars are an easier way of enjoying a great cookie. Best of all, you can cut them to whatever size you’d like, so they can be as large or small as you want!
Hi, remember me? Yeah, I know it’s been awhile. This whole summer was a bust.
I’m in South Dakota at least until next year now. It’s funny, having spent more time in Ohio the past 3-4 months than I have in the past three years. And almost all of that time was spent either in a hospital room, or in my dad’s apartment, without him there.
Going through someone else’s life is rather strange and surreal. Especially when it’s someone I’ve known my entire life. My dad was a packrat – Which is where I get it from. Though I’m also my mother’s daughter, and every so often, the clutter gets to me, and I’ll purge a bunch of stuff. I’m in purge mode at the moment, but don’t have the time or energy to bother with any of it. I will say, though, having to go through this process has made Jay and I both much more cognizant of our borderline hoarding tendencies, and we’re both thinking we need to massively clean out all the JUNK we ourselves have just piling up around the house. Otherwise, the poor bambino is going to have a nightmare to deal with on his own once we’re gone.
There have been a lot of painful moments – Aside from just the pain of losing my father so quickly. Though I don’t like to think of it, my mind keeps replaying that last morning I was there with him, and how I had to leave moments before he passed. I think I’m going to struggle with that one for awhile.
His graveside service was a debacle – Someone at the funeral home dropped the ball and my dad didn’t receive the military honors he was supposed to have had. We discovered some of his personal property and things sentimental to us have been stolen. There have been issues with some of his debts (things I probably shouldn’t get into since we’ve retained legal counsel). It’s been a bit of a mess – One of those chronic Murphy’s Law situations. If it can go wrong, it will. And it has.
I’ve spent several days going through a lot of old bills and sorting what needed to be kept, as well as what could be shredded, and that was rather heartbreaking. Throwing away pieces of my dad’s life.
But some of it has been kind of fun and bittersweet, in spite of the pain and grief. While at my dad’s apartment, we came across an old suitcase of our granddad’s. One morning I was there, my sister ordered me to open it and smell the inside. Knowing my sister as I do, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I opened it, and was immediately transported to my childhood, because the inside still smelled like his cologne. That suitcase is more than likely older than I am, so it was a pleasant shock, even though I immediately burst into tears.
And there were other pleasant surprises. A book I’d read in junior high was still at my dad’s – I couldn’t remember the name of it, but for some reason, I’d been thinking about it off and on for months now. I also found a treasure trove of old posters from high school and college, include my Tomato Soup Can, and my Ministry of Silly Walks. I think I’ll have that one framed and will maybe hang it in the bambino’s room – He ADORES John Cleese.
And at one point while we were home, we got to meet two of the nicest celebrities with whom I’ve ever crossed paths – Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff, the Mads from MST3K. I’d bought tickets to see their show The Mads are Back, after realizing they would be in Columbus at the same time we would – And as it so happened, their first show was on Jay’s birthday. Jay teases me that it was more of a present for me that coincided with his birthday, which is true, yes, but he has a picture of Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank that wishes him a “Happy Birthday,” and my old MST3K lunchbox is now autographed, so it was win-win.
And I’ve seen a lot of rainbows lately, which is nice. When I was a kid, I used to draw pages and pages of rainbows – They’re about the easiest thing for a non-artist like myself to make without screwing up, and I just love seeing the colors often set against the grey background of the sky after a storm. But now I see them and I think “Hi Dad.”
This is one of those instances where I decided to bake just for the hell of it…The funny thing about grieving that no one tells you is that you need to learn to move beyond just existing. You have to relearn to do those things you love. And in my instance, I needed to re-learn how to cook beyond simple subsistence-cooking. We’ve been eating out a LOT lately, because I haven’t had the energy (physical or emotional) to bother with cooking. If it wasn’t due to depression, it was sheer exhaustion – I came back from my dad’s funeral and jumped right into Fall rush at work. It was both a blessing (keeping myself occupied with something other than brooding and moping about) and a curse (not feeling like I actually had time to properly mourn).
I chose chocolate chip bars because I remember my dad making them frequently after I’d moved to South Dakota, and when we’d talk on the phone, he’d tell me about another batch he’d made. That was pretty much the extent of my dad’s homemade baking – Otherwise he was a boxed mix kind of guy.
Using browned butter and the addition of bourbon bring an extra depth of flavor – Taking your cookie bars from ordinary to extraordinary! And while regular run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookie bars are just fine, if you’re eating your feelings, why not have something a little more gourmet to take away some of the sting? Especially when you’re like me, and have no real appetite anyway.
- 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 C sugar
- 3/4 C packed brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. bourbon
- 2 large eggs
- 1 12-oz. package mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 15x10-inch baking pan with parchment paper or grease well. Set aside.
In a small, preferably light-colored saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Continue cooking until it foams, and begin to whisk. Continue cooking and whisking until the foam subsides. The butter will begin to darken and smell nutty. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Combine the browned butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well-combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the bourbon.
On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Fold in the mini chips.
Spread the dough into the prepared pan, using clean hands to spread out, if necessary.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.
Make sure you check back next week – I’m participating in #Choctoberfest again this year, and have already started baking up a lot of fun treats!