Yeah, yeah I know that title up there is quite a mouthful. But there are reasons. First of all, I got chosen by Food Buzz to participate in the Nestle Tollhouse Bake Some Love program, which is a sponsored program, meaning I got paid some money to make these cookies, so I wanted to get that in there. And, yay! I love this job! But you are here for the food, so I needed to get the recipe titles in too. Except I only liked, not loved, the first recipe, which meant a second recipe needed to be made.
So there you have it.
But back to the beginning. Nestle Tollhouse was offering some bloggers (as a part of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program) a chance to participate in their program, as I said, where they provided some chips, a fancy new apron (adult sized, so it is not in the picture–it swamped Sammy haha), and a stipend. All I had to do was bake with my kids–something I do all the time anyway.
This was a no brainer. First of all, in terms of bang for buck, you can’t beat the Nestle Tollhouse chips. They are what we all grew up on–I made that recipe from the back of the bag so many times I had it memorized, so they taste “right” to people. And if you belong to a shopping warehouse like Costco, you can buy them in bulk, which is awesome for a mom like me, who is constantly baking for various functions. They also come in certain varieties that, depending on where you live, may or may not be hard to find otherwise (like mini morsels and milk chocolate morsels, the 2 I ended up using–for the longest time Nestle was the only source of mini chips).
The first recipe I chose was Slice-n-Bake Chocolate Chip cookies, from Lauren Chattman’s Mom’s Big Book of Cookies: 200 Family Favorites You’ll Love Making and Your Kids Will Love Eating. I chose this recipe for 2 reasons: first I love slice and bake cookies, especially this time of year when (as I did) you can make extra dough and freeze it, thereby allowing a test run for some cookies for your holiday table (stay tuned for the clove snaps we made at the same time, without any morsels, which will make an awesome addition to your holiday cookies). Second, I wanted to high-light mini morsels, which are something I have used for years from Nestle, and slice and bake cookies are perfect for mini morsels, the larger chips usually breaking up the slicing of the cookies.
Sammy and I made these cookies together. We went shopping for all of the ingredients together one day and then went home and put on our aprons.
The dough comes together quite easily. I recommend making sure to use a good vanilla–there is not a lot going on in these cookies, so what is there should be of good quality. The cookies are, frankly, not a knock-out for me. They are a good example of the kind of cookie that mini morsels are so important for, but we did not adore the cookies. So while I have provided the recipe for you below, I decided that I needed to extend my baking to a second day, and hopefully find a more worthy recipe.
Enter the Perfect S’Mores Bars.
I actually waited to start these until Alex got home, on early dismissal Wednesday (does your school have early dismissal? On the one hand it is great for days like these but on the other hand, I hate them. Sometimes it feels like all they accomplish is parents screwing up and forgetting that one day a week they need to be home for/pick up their children early).
Here Alex is reaching for the melted butter. Somehow it never occurred to me when I put the microwave that high how out of reach I would be making the single safe cooking appliance for my kids.
These bars are based on a rocky road bar from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. All I really did was remove the nuts and amp up the chocolate and marshmallows.
This is the first time I have baked with Alex since I started taking photos of the kids baking for my blog. Here she is letting me know exactly what she thinks of being constantly photographed while stirring, dumping, etc.
This is a simple recipe–the kind of recipe that afterwards you pause and think: “Why didn’t I think of that?” A slightly sweetened graham cracker base is baked and then topped with mini marshmallows and semi sweet or milk chocolate morsels, before being baked again. I added coarse sea salt.
This was my first time using Nestle Tollhouse milk chocolate morsels, and they were quite good. They fit the flavor profile perfectly for what we expect from a bar cookie based on s’mores. Having said that, I bet semi sweet chocolate would be good too!
Alice Medrich prefers chopped up big marshmallows, but actually I really like the individually puffed looked of the mini marshmallows.
Words cannot do justice to how delicious these were. John told me repeatedly, over about 2 days (how long they lasted) that it was ridiculous of me to put them anywhere he could see them and then expect that he would not eat them. They actually were better than s’mores in my humble opinion. I’ve been desperately resisting the urge to make more of them, since between Thanksgiving and my upcoming holiday cookie table, I will be eating more than enough sweets in the next month or so. Hope you like them too.
- 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups (5 oz) graham cracker crumbs, takes about 9 double crackers
- 1/4 cup (1 3/4) oz sugar
- 1/4 t fine sea salt
- 4 oz mini marshmallows this is approximate, I just sprinkled til I was happy with the coverage
- 1 1/2 cups (9 oz) milk chocolate chips (also approximate)
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Lightly spray an 8X8 pan with baking spray and then line it with parchment paper (the spray will help the parchment stick nicely in the crevices, otherwise you will need to grease foil). Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Whisk together the fine sea salt, graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Mix the butter in until it is evenly moistened. Dump this mixture into the prepared pan and press it evenly into the pan.
Bake the graham cracker crust on the lower rack of the oven for 10 minutes, or until the crust begins to turn golden brown. Then remove it from the oven and scatter the mini marshmallows and milk chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt (preferably grey) to taste.
Return the pan to the oven, this time the top rack, and turn the heat up to 375 F. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the marshmallows are puffed and golden.Set on a cooling rack to cool completely, and then use the edges of the parchment paper to remove from the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into desired size bars.
- 2 cups (252 g) AP flour
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 10 T (1 stick plus 2 T) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 t vanilla
- 1 cup miniature chocolate chips/morsels
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture and then mix in the chips--on low speed.
This dough is quite sticky. Dump half of it onto plastic wrap and with damp hands roughly form it into a log about 8-9 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold the plastic wrap from one side around it, fitting snugly, and then roll it completely into the rest of the plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to roll it into a nicer round shape.
Then, slice down the length of a paper towel roll. Place the plastic wrapped cookie dough log inside of the paper towel roll, and use that to maintain a round roll while chilling. If you plan to freeze the dough, wrap heavy duty foil around the paper towel roll to store in the freezer.
minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 350 F. Slice the dough into 1/3-inch rounds, rotating it as you slice, so that one side does not get flattened (mine never come out perfectly--I've learned to live with this). Place the cookies on a silicone or parchment lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until they are pale golden at the edges but still soft. Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring them to cooling racks.