Nick has been friends with Matt since second grade. So when his mom wanted to come over and do some baking, I suggested we make cookies to mail to our boys, who both started their freshman year of college this fall. Knowing both Matt and Nick loved chocolate, I selected 3 recipes certain to please them, their friends and dorm-mates. First up was a Chewy Cocoa Brownie…and we threw in a bag of chocolate chips to up the chocolate ante. Next was a Candy Stuffed Cookie that I purchased during an on-line bake sale from Amber of Bluebonnets and Brownies. Dove Promises (available in all sorts of great flavors) were wrapped with chocolate chip cookie dough. And third were Chocolate Chip Lava Cookies from my friend, Jen, of Juanita’s Cocina, who also sent me these cookies from the same bake sale…I made an even smaller version of hers in mini muffin tins.
I sent Nick a text that cookies were headed his way and he replied back, “Awesome.” And Matt did not know of his sweet surprise until his mom told him to check his mail…and he made his first phone call home after opening the package…quite delighted with his loot. When I bumped into his mom 4 days post arrival, she assured me they were all gone.
To pack up a care package, I use the Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes from the Post Office. Pack your cookies in those reusable lightweight plastic containers with lids…carefully fill any excess space up with some sort of food safe packing paper to help prevent any potential breakage. Bring the containers, packing tape and packing paper (or newspaper) with you to the PO. Buy the appropriate sized box and fill any empty space in the box with crumpled up paper. Before sealing, shut the top and give the box a little jostle to see if all is packed tightly. If not, add a bit more paper. Seal, label and send. Priority Mail will get the baked goods to their destination in 2 days…any longer and the treats might get stale. Not like college boys seem to have trouble eating slightly less than fresh treats! Now on to the recipes.
Chewy Double Chocolate Brownies…adapted from Nestles
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease 9 x13 pan (or line with non-stick foil). Set aside.
Combine sugar, butter, water in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix till combined. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into prepared pan.
Bake18-22 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out a bit sticky, but not covered with batter.
Promise Stuffed Cookies…adapted from Bluebonnets and Brownies
26 or more Dove Promise Candy (I used both Dark Chocolate and Caramel Filled Milk Chocolate), frozen for 2 hours
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Before starting, make sure you’ve frozen your chocolates for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375º. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap candy and place back in freezer while you prepare dough.
In large bowl with hand mixer or in a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars till light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs till combined. Mix in baking soda and salt, then slowly add flour, and mix on low till completely combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
Scoop out rounded tablespoons of dough, push one piece of candy into the center and roll until candy is covered by dough. Place 6-8 dough balls on baking sheets and freeze for about 20 minutes before baking.
Bake 12-17 minutes depending on size of your cookies or till golden and puffy. Cool for a few minutes on pan, then remove to cooling rack.
Chocolate Chip Lava Cookies…adapted from Juanita’s Cocina
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray mini muffin tin well with cooking spray. Set aside
Place 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips in a ziplock bag in a single layer and microwave gently (flipping bag after 30 seconds) till melted. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar till well combined. Mix in eggs and vanilla, followed by four, salt, and baking soda. Add remaining chocolate chips.
Place a scant tablespoon of dough into about 18 of the 24 muffin cups. Cut the corner off the ziplock bag and press out some of the melted chocolate on each cookie. Take another scant tablespoon of dough, flatten into a disk about the size of the muffin cup opening, and lightly press over chocolate.
Bake about 12 minutes, or till top of cookie looks cooked and golden. Run knife around perimeters of cookies before the cool for easier removal.
Makes about 18 cookies.