Chocolate Chip Bars
The holidays are all about traditions, and in my family, all the traditions are food related–something I alternately love and embrace and also something I feel I have to defend, for example, to boyfriends whose families are a little more “normal.” See, I wasn’t allowed to believe in Santa Clause–ever. From the moment I could remember anything, I just knew that Santa wasn’t real simply because I was told he wasn’t’. The presents under the tree were always from mom or dad, or, if my mom was feeling funny, from one of the cats. I never missed believing in Santa Clause–after all, he’s just some creepy old guy in a mothball smelling suit–but it’s a weird thing to try to explain to someone.
As for our own traditions, like I said, they revolve around food–Jesus’ birthday cake, Christmas cookies, Christmas brunch, etc. I think I tried to make a gingerbread house once, but it didn’t turn out too well and I quickly lost interest in that normal tradition. We also didn’t really decorate Christmas cookies. My mom made a the spritz kind and maybe one or two others, but it was always a simple and delicious affair. After all, she had clients to take care of (she was a caterer). The main thing for us was definitely Jesus’ birthday cake (a towering dark chocolate layer cake affair with amaretto cheesecake between cake layers) and Christmas brunch–quiche lorraine, chocolate cream cheese Danish braids, sausage cheese balls, fruit, and sometimes cream puffs. Brunch rocked my socks.
So now that I’m out on my own, I have to come up with some of my own traditions, and this process has translated into me just baking more, I think. Right now I have peanut butter balls cooling, rum balls in the works, hot chocolate mix galore, lists of other goodies to make–it’s a little ridiculous for one person. But it’s what I love. These chocolate chip bars are my mom’s recipe. You probably have one like it, but in our house these were constantly around. For any of the lunches she catered, my mom always had a tray of these, simply because everyone loved the buttery, chocolatey goodness of them, and also because they’re just so simple to make. You can whip these up in the time it takes to make biscuits–which for me isn’t too long, given my love affair with the latter. If you’re looking for a quick and easy holiday (or any day) treat, these might just do the trick!
Chocolate Chip Bars
2 c all-purpose flour
1 c brown sugar
1 c Earth Balance, in chunks and cold
1 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold Earth Balance into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula, then pat into a 9×13 baking pan and squish flat to fill the pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into squares. Let cool for another 30 minutes before serving.