I don’t know if Jessica was born with a daring sense of adventure or if she developed it, but she certainly has one. In December of 2009 she acted on it when she booked a last minute 5-week trip to New Zealand. With passport in hand and traveling outside of the country on her own, she set off on a trip of a lifetime with the knowledge that she only had sleeping arrangements made for her first few nights there! Whether the impetus for her *spur-of-the-moment* trip was the beautiful country beckoning or the fact that one of her hails from there is unknown, but Jessica certainly made the best of her time overseas. One of her highlights while in New Zealand had to be doing a tandem sky diving jump from 27,000 feet. Jessica also has a sense of adventure in the kitchen which she shares with her readers at Bake Me Away. This classical musician grew to love baking while doing so with her father from the time she was little. Today she combines that love with her talent for photography and readers will especially enjoy her varied and deeply appealing Wordless Wednesday posts filled with photographs that truly do not need any words. Jessica is a member of the and Daring Cooks, a featured publisher on FoodBuzz and a member of their Tastemaker program. Bake Me Away will carry any reader off on blogging adventure where they are sure to enjoy everything from soup to nuts with wonderful little stories and beautiful photographs thrown in the mix. I’m very happy that Jessica is here today, sharing her story and recipe with us. You can follow her on Twitter @bakemeaway
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Even though I first heard of Frosting for the Cause a few months ago, by some strange chance, I didn’t find out what it actually was about until the day that my Aunt Tammy passed away. She was really into Race for the Cure, so I think she would have been a fan of this cause! Since I knew it would be a great way to honor her and help raise awareness for her particular illness, I signed up immediately.
Aunt Tammy loved to travel, specifically on cruises. With my uncle, she visited 35 countries while on 18 cruises! The trip I was most envious of was their cruise to Australia and New Zealand in February 2009. They met all sorts of animals, toured wineries, walked through rain forests with giant trees, and visited kiwifruit farms, among many other activities. I went on my own trip to NZ at the end of that year partly because I was inspired by them!
It was unfortunately after their trip down under that my aunt was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Despite the aggressiveness of her cancer, my aunt remained positive, confident that one day she’d be cured. To keep her friends and family updated, she diligently wrote in her online Caring Bridge journal telling us about her treatments, good news, and complications in ways that we could understand. (I finally realized that Chermilodina, the username for her journal, is a combination of her beloved dogs‘ names: Cherish, Milo, Heidi, and Salena!)
At the beginning of this past May, Aunt Tammy and Uncle Mark were supposed to go to Disney World, but canceled their trip as soon as they were told she had two months to live. A week later, it became 2 - 3 weeks. I’m not sure how anyone could deal with that kind of news, but my aunt remained strong. On May 26, just days before her last, she wrote her final entry talking about the end of her journey along with all the preparations they were making for it. If that’s not courage, I don’t know what it is.
In honor of my Aunt Tammy’s optimism and strength I have baked Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies. Yesterday (June 22) would have been her 51st birthday. Happy Birthday, Aunt Tammy!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies
concept from Evil Shenanigans
Chocolate chip were my aunt’s favorite type of cookie, so this idea seemed like a winner. I decided to use my favorite brownie and cookie recipes for this! Also, I added a layer of toasted pecans because they’re always in my aunt and uncle’s cookies.
Moosewood Fudge Brownies
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans or nut of your choice, toasted (optional)
Spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with baking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray again. In a saucepan, heat butter and chocolate on low, stir in occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat after the butter and chocolate have melted. Once the mixture is cool, stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix the flour with the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the toasted nuts evenly over the top. Set aside while you make the cookies.
Chewy Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Alton Brown
This makes probably twice as many cookies as you’ll need. I froze the extras, but you can either double the brownie recipe for two pans of cookie brownies or halve this recipe. If you halve it, I would just use one egg and not worry about halving yolks or whites!
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons warm water
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Brown the butter: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir frequently – it will get bubbly, foamy, clear, then little brown bits will begin forming and it’ll smell nutty. This is good, just take care not to burn the bits. Remove from heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. With a mixer, cream together the brown butter and brown sugar. Add the water, egg and yolk, milk and vanilla and mix well at medium speed. Add in the flour mixture a little at a time until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Cookie Brownie assembly:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Scoop tablespoon-sized scoops of cookie dough and cover the nut-covered brownie batter. (I was able to fit 25 scoops!) Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the edges are set. Let cool for an hour, then remove from pan and let cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container, but preferably your belly!
As a participant of Frosting for the Cause, I donated these cookie brownies to my aunt’s hospice center, Vista Care.
Also, I made a donation to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, and so did my uncle in both of our names. Thanks, Uncle Mark!
We will love and remember you always, Aunt Tammy. ♥