Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Attempting the Chocolate Chip Square

Growing up chocolate chip squares were a Reems' household staple. R1 and I were recently reminiscing about the "original square." In the late 80s, before Joan discovered such terms as "low fat" and "fiber," these squares were everything you could want in a recess snack - butter and sugar, combined with chocolate? Almost good as everyone else's oreos (kids with moms or dads who bake never know how good they have it - who wants homemade cookies when you could be eating a fruit rollup?)

As the years progressed the squares became slightly more, well, healthy, as the amount of butter decreased and the amount of oatmeal inversely increased. Before you accuse me of being overly critical of a working mother of four who still managed to produce a never ceasing flow of baked goods and nutritious meals, I do want to express some gratitude for having been instilled with the value of healthy eating and active living. That said, I set out to replicate the pre-oatmeal-low-fat-square of my memory while making it slightly healthier than the original.

Now according to my R2 I haven't quite nailed the original square. However, judging by the amount of these that I have been baking lately I have come up with a formula that is working. The beauty of squares, as opposed to cookies is that they are quick and easy. You can mix up a batch while you are making dinner. No fiddily little balls, no endless batches. The key to this square is your baking time. Please use the baking time as a guideline and watch these like a hawk the first time you bake them. All ovens are different and what these babies need is to be under-baked. Take them out when the middle of your pan is still doughy. They will firm up while cooling. If you leave them in too long don't blame me.

Chocolate Chip Squares

Cream together:

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar

Add and mix:

2 eggs
generous teaspoon vanilla

Next Add:
Note: I am a one bowl baker. My method? Measure all of the dry ingredients on top of the wet ones, and then give the dry ingredients on top a good stir and then stir the whole mixture together.
21/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

You may need to use your hands to combine the dough. If it is really dry you can add a scant tablespoon of water but be careful not to overdo it.

Press the mixture into a small cookie sheet or a 9 by 13 inch pan (the cookie sheet will produce a skinnier square and therefore requires a slightly shorter baking time).

Bake at 350 degrees for aproximately 15 minutes for a 9 by 13, 12 minutes for a cookie sheet. Start peeking into the oven at 10 minutes. UNDERBAKE!!!

Let cool for about 15 minutes and then cut into squares. Try not to eat all of them while you do this.

16 comments:

  1. Ah, yes, I remember. That lovely tupperware container in the cupboard near the fridge. I loved it at your house. My Mom was a pro baker too, so the fact that I remember the precise taste of those squares is a testament to their 80's squareness. And I also remember the oatmeal addition. Not so good, but as a starving teenager raiding someone else's cupboard, who was I to criticize?
    Thanks. Will try.

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  2. Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is crazy. I just logged on to see your squares. Would you believe I am planning to attempt the chocolate chip squares??? The bake off was set for tonight! Yikes. We're so alike.

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