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Today was the first day of school for both of my children.  If you’re like me you’re asking, “Where did the summer go?”  I promise it feels like summer just began and here I am sending them off to school again, only this time I’ve got a brand new kindergartener.  He got off the bus today and said, “School is awesome.”  Whew, I’m so glad.  We’ve been talking about kindergarten for months and he’s visited the school many times for his older brother’s activities/performances and has accompanied me when I’m volunteering.

Last week we were there as I was setting up a luncheon for the faculty.  Just when I thought it was safe to unleash him on the school, he managed to state the following to the principal:  “When I come to school here, I’m going to be very very bad.”

{Cue the gasp from his embarrassed mother.}

What did he just say??

She smiled and said: “Oh, I know when you start school you are going to be very, very good.”  What a sweet woman.

Luckily, he had a great day and so did my fourth grader.  I have a fourth grader?

Every year I like to make a special treat for their first day of school.  One year I made these.  This year I decided to make these black-bottom cookie bars, which I found in the special issue of everyday food magazine.  Recently I made the roasted eggplant from this magazine and blogged about it here.

You’ll need to butter an 8 x 8 square baking dish, cut parchment to fit with a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides and then butter the parchment.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

The batter will get divided in half and then you’ll add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips to half of the batter until well combined.  Spoon that into the prepared baking dish and level out the batter so that you have a smooth top.

Next transfer the plain batter to the baking dish and smooth out the top.  It’s ready to go into the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

I baked the bars for 33 minutes until the toothpick inserted in the center came out clean.  The recipe calls for them cooling completely before cutting them into 24 bars.

My kids really enjoyed these.  I recommend a big glass of milk to go with a bar (or two).  You can be sure I’ll be sending a half a dozen to work with my husband.

Black-bottom Cookie Bars


1 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for baking dish

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp fine salt

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (note that I used 1 cup of Ghirardelli chips)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.  Lightly butter parchment.  In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugars until smooth.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla.  Add flour and salt, stirring just until moistened.  Transfer half the batter to a separate bowl and stir in cocoa powder and chocolate chips until well combined.

Transfer chocolate batter to dish and , with a rubber or offset spatula, smooth top.  Transfer plain batter to pan and smooth top.  Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Let cool completely in dish on a wire rack before cutting into 24 bars.  (Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, up to 3 days).

Yield: 24 bars

Today, I’m linking to the Creative Spark at Clean & Scentsible, the Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life As Mom and Home and Family Friday at Home is Where My Story Begins.