Thursday, May 31, 2012

Literary Bite: Night Circus

It took a while for me to get into Night Circus, but then I accidentally Metro'ed all the way to Silver Spring last weekend because I was so into the story I missed my stop! Which means a) the book is good, b) I am a space cadet, or c) both a and b.

The story is about magic, but it’s not fantasy, and it’s realistic(ish), but it’s not magical realism. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is exactly the kind of book that I usually like. It’s centered around The Cirque des Rêves (literally “Dream Circus”) that takes place at night and is famous for wild magical acts and laws-of-nature-defying tents. I think Morgenstern did a great job of grounding her fantasy in fact. The book was just magical enough to be fun and fascinating with a minor suspension of disbelief, but not soooo much that it lost me (as happens when I read magical realism - Rushdie I'm looking at you).

The main characters are Marco and Celia, two young magicians who have been groomed to participate in some grand challenge of magic that neither of them or anyone around them really understands.

This is Morgensern’s first book and it is impressively complicated. The narrative jumps around in time (each chapter starts by noting the date) and perspective, but all comes together very well at the end. I found the non-linear format mildly annoying, in that for a lot of the book I wasn’t really sure when the action was happening and had to flip back to understand the order of events.

But the book got better and better as I read – for the last 200 pages (it’s 400 total) I couldn’t put it down!
Read a good review here.

My book club is discussing it tonight, so here are some things for us to think about:

Night Circus Discussion Questions

  • The novel opens with a quote from Oscar Wilde: A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. How is this sentiment explored in The Night Circus? Who in the novel is a dreamer? And what is their punishment for being so?
  • Why are Frederick Thiessen and the reveurs important to the story? Why do you think some people were so entranced by the circus that they devoted themselves to following it around?
  • The novel frequently changes narrative perspective. How does this transition shape your reading of the novel and your connection to the characters and the circus? Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from varied perspectives?
  • Did you feel sorry for those who were being used in the game -- Isobel, the Burgess sisters, even Celia and Marco? Why do you think some people, like Mr. Barris, don't mind being trapped by the circus while it drives others, like Tara Burgess, mad?
  • What role does time play in the novel? From Friedrick Thiessen’s clock, to the delayed aging of the circus developers, to the birth of the twins—is time manipulated or fated at the circus?
  • What did you think of Bailey? Why do you think Bailey was willing to give his life to the circus?
  • How does the following statement apply to both Le Cirque des Rêves and the competition? Which audience is more valuable: one that is complicit or one that is unknowing?
  • Chandresh relishes reactions. Genuine reactions, not mere polite applause. He often values the reactions over the show itself. A show without an audience is nothing, after all. In the response of the audience, that is where the power of performance lives.
  • Mr. Barris, Friedrick Thiessen, Mme. Padva, and even Bailey are aware that the circus has made a profound, inexplicable, change in their lives, but they each choose not to explore the depth of these changes. Friedrick Thiessen confirms that, “I prefer to remain unenlightened, to better appreciate the dark.” Do you agree with this standpoint? What inherent dangers accompany a purposeful ignorance? What dangers present themselves when ignorance is not chosen? Is one choice better/safer than the other or are they equally fraught?
  • Why does the man in the grey suit feel so passionate about stories? What sort of commentary do you think the chapter "Stories" is on the novel? On life?
  • The book takes place at the turn of the 20th century. Why does Bailey’s business card provide an email address?
Have you read Night Circus? What did you think? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cake of the Week: Sluttier Brownies

The Eat Run Read scandalousness continues. Judging by the bloggy success of Sister1’s Slutty Brownies, this next creation might just blow the internet’s mind.  It’s her same recipe, but with one incredibly important addition to take these brownies to the next slutty level: peanut butter. Because on a scale from one to insanely intense, these score HIGH on the intensity side. 

This is not a dessert for the faint of heart. I made them as a goodbye present for my friend who is driving cross-country. Forget the late-night coffee, I bet just one of these bars would equal a few shots of espresso and maybe a Red Bull or two. (Just as Sister1 said, these are dangerous to have around in any quantity.) 

I went the lazy route and used brownie mix instead of making the brownies from scratch. And I am a-OK with that! Let’s be real, mostly I’m re-posting this recipe because the pictures are so fabulous. So without further ado:

Sluttier Brownies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Ingredients: 
  • See printable recipe for from-scratch brownie instructions. I used a family-sized box mix this time. 

  • 1 pkg Double Stuffed Oreos
  • About 1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth, whatever you like). 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with wax paper and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.
  • For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer: Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to thoroughly combine. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into the mixer until the flour is just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. 

  • For the Brownie Layer: prepare box mix according to instructions.
  • Assembly: Spread the cookie dough in the bottom of your prepared pan.
  • Spread peanut butter on top of the Oreos.

  • Top the cookie dough with a layer of Oreos. 

  • Pour the brownie batter over the cookie dough and Oreos. 

  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15-25 minutes. 
  • Let cool completely before cutting — brownies may still be gooey in the middle when still warm, but will set up perfectly once cooled. 

  • Note: To half this recipe for an 8×8 brownie mix, simply half the chocolate chip cookie dough ingredients.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend Report: Floating and Biking

Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer and apparently DC listened, bringing us the kinds of temperatures that say It is summer and you will rue the day you thought living in a mid-Atlantic swamp was a good idea.

Oh well. Sweatiness aside, I still love my city. And on Sunday of this most glorious 3 day weekend, a group of my friends and I went “floating” at Harper’s Ferry to take full advantage of the summeriness. (In my family we call this activity “tubing,” but apparently to southerners it’s all about the float.)

(This isn't us - I didn't bring my camera on the river.)
We drove out to Harper’s Ferry, where a very bossy and militant “trip leader” herded us onto a bus and drove us to the Shenandoah River. (So much stress to go relax!) But once we were butts-in-tubes on the water it was pure floating bliss.

I am an experienced tuber – my family has been floating down the Truckee River and bobbing in tubes in Tahoe for years. There is nothing better than laying back and enjoying the sunshine on my stomach, gunshots in the background and tree branches falling into the river. (That just took a turn for the unexpected there, huh? I’m not even kidding – gunshots in the distance - we were in West Virginia - and a huge tree branch almost took out LOTR-Emily and her boyfriend!!!) But despite those mild hiccoughs at the beginning, it was a glorious couple of hours in the sunshine.

After tubing we headed into the town of Harper’s Ferry (I’ve been hiking around there before). We sat outside for lunch, then explored the historic town, complete with reenactors and ruins and everything.

(It took all of my will-power NOT to climb to the top...)

We concluded that next time we'll be a bit more prepared and pick a place with a longer float.

In other weekend news, I needed exercise like woah, so the other outsidey thing I did was take SpeedyKate’s bike for a couple rides. Saturday morning I had a limited amount of time, so I biked to Alexandria and back (about 23 miles). That was just a warm-up for my Sunday ride, which I couldn’t start until 3pm at the height of the heat.

The nice thing about biking though, is that you can do it when it’s hot. Running yesterday afternoon would have been absolutely impossible and I would have melted into a puddle of misery. But biking has an inherent breeze-in-your-face factor that keeps me normal-temperatured. I peddled my way to Mt. Vernon, listening to music in one ear and singing along when appropriate/able. Every park I passed through was full of Memorial Day celebrants out enjoying the day, odors of charcoal and bar-b-q wafting along the bikepath and kids all over the place.

I had a headwind on the way there, so I was pretty tired by the time I arrived at Mt. Vernon. And then the sad fact of out-and-backs hit me – I’m tired and thirsty and now I need to get home! 

On the way back I cut across the George Mason Bridge in the interest of avoiding tourist-covered traffic-y Mall. Clearly I made it and was fine (40 miles!!!!), though I definitely drank about a gallon of water and had to lay on my floor for a bit the moment I walked in the door.

I ended the day as all summer days should end – eating (well-deserved?) Fro Zen Yo with LOTR-Emily. Ummm hello new non-fat butter pecan flavor!

And that, my friends, was that. Happy Memorial Day to you all!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Best of the Week #60

The Friday before a long weekend is always relaxing – half the office is already out of town and it’s pretty much universally recognized that nothing major really needs to be started, since no one will look at it until Tuesday! (I'm not saying that I’m not working – it’s just that the office vibe is different). And I’m looking forward to staycating this weekend – chores, biking, lounging by the pool, and spending more than 3 consecutive waking hours at my new apartment (which I haven’t done since moving in two weeks ago – I am the ghost roommate). 

But before that, let’s get on with Best of the Week! (Sidenote: Can you believe that I have curated 60 of these posts of ridiculousness??? Crazy.)

My most popular post this week was Sister1’s Slutty Brownies. Oooohhh I can’t wait to show you the variation on this recipe I made last night…beyond

This might me my new favorite blog: "List Addicts." I’m pretty sure that 80% of the time I think in lists.

For those in the District, "Your Guide to the Coolest Washington Summer Ever." I’ve already done 12 out of the 40 suggestions…looks like I have my work cut out for me!

Why Nigerians have at least 2 cell phones: "African viewpoint: Nigeria's dialing dilemmas."
  • In the first place, it takes luck for the call to get through, and when both parties are connected, there is no guarantee that you will hear each other or that the line will not drop after a few seconds. A conversation which normally should not last two minutes may after several calls take 10 minutes and, believe me, both of you will pay for every second….
  • So everyone who can afford it has a minimum of two mobile phones from different operators. Some have as many as four. They use whichever is operational at any given time.
This is the for-serious magazine cover and I love it.

This entire article is fascinating – “What Do Fact-Checkers and Anesthesiologists Have in Common?
  • What's most interesting about fact checkers is the circumstances they work under and the traits they must possess to perform their job. Generally speaking, fact checking is a largely thankless job where the person is invisible if he does his job perfectly and is only noticed for his work when things go wrong.
  • It turns out, the lonely, lowly fact checker, is in actuality not so lonely. There is a commonality of his circumstance and traits among a select group of other professionals, a collective I call The Invisibles, and we as a culture can learn from this unique group.
  • Though I've only focused on a few members of this club, in my research I found again and again these same unique traits in other Invisibles, and I've been humbled by them. Meticulousness, savoring great responsibility, and seeking only internal satisfaction are a trifecta of traits—a near antithesis of our societal ethos of insouciant attention-cravers—as a culture we'd all do well to follow.

I know this meme is old news…but still – "Hey Runner Girl."

Make fun of me all you want, I am a book club person. This Jezebel article is pretty funny: “Provoking Discussion Questions Every Book Club Should Ask.”
  • 4. This book has sold several million copies and has been translated into 26 languages. A lot of us are kind of resentful about this. Do you think you could have written this book or something? Do you think writing a book is easy?
  • 10. What foods or beverages did you spill on the book during the course of reading it? Anything good?

An interesting concept – “Free bicycles help keep Indian girls in school.”

  • Free bicycles help keep Indian girls in school under a new state government program designed to help girls in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, where the female literacy rate of 53 percent is more than 20 points below that of its men.
  • "We found that the high school dropout rate soared when girls reached the ninth grade. This was primarily because there are fewer high schools and girls had to travel longer distances to get to school," said Anjani Kumar Singh, Bihar's principal secretary overseeing education.
  • Poor families could not spare the money for transport, or were reluctant to let girls travel so far away, fearing for their safety.
I haven’t actually read this NYT article/profile yet, but it looks promising (Caballo Blanco should be familiar to anyone who has read Born to Run). “Caballo Blanco’s Last Run: The Micah True Story.”
Ooh and you can listen to it being read to you! Cool! (MP3)

Cute Roulette. Enough said. 

And speaking of cute, I want Shauna's puppy.

Hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Young Adult Fiction Challenge Update - 4 Books In!

I’m happy to report that my Young Adult Fiction Challenge is moving along as planned – I’ve been alternating one YA book/one“real” book for the past 2 months. So far I’ve read Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, and Redwall.

You can follow along in my spreadsheet.

I’ve always liked jumping from one type of book to another, so the fact that I read a 1930s romance, a non-fiction book about immigrants and the American medical system, a collection of essays, and a Darfuri refuges story as my between-YA reads was not a problem at all.

One thing I’ve noticed – and I don’t know if this is a characteristic of YA fiction in general, or just a characteristic of the YA fiction I like – is that all the books have main characters with a strong sense of justice. As a kid, my parents were always telling me that “life’s not fair.” But according to Mathias in Redwall and Sam in My Side of the Mountain, life should be fair and everyone should fight to make it so (Mathias literally fought, Sam just believed that everyone should be able to do what they want). As I mentioned in my first YA Fiction post, Karana in Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Julie in Julie of the Wolves have much more survival-type stories.  

As an adult(ish) person reading these books, here are some of my take-aways:

Redwall by Brian Jaques – I think my hopes were highest for this one, since all the Brian Jaques books were my favorites as a kid. Maybe my expectations were too high, because though Redwall is still good, it’s definitely not as amazing as it was when I was 10. I noticed the strong tyranny v. peace narrative, which is a huge theme in my life (I spend most of my professional time on Sudan/South Sudan issues). Also some racism (kind of)…as in some species are all evil (rats, stoats, foxes, snakes), and some are all good (mice, squirrels, badgers, etc.).
Sidenote: As always I LOVE the hares and moles and how they talk – my mama did a great job on them when reading aloud (bur oi and wot wot?).

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George – This book is a lot more REAL than I remembered. It addresses serious things, including environmental issues and social/cultural problems of native Alaskans. Plus, of course, [spoiler alert!] one of the main characters is brutally murdered. And does anyone remember the rape scene??? I totally forgot about that.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell – Much like Julie of the Wolves, a major theme of this book is survival and cultural clashes, namely native cultures resisting/adjusting to white American involvement. And it’s also pretty violent – death and murder to be specific.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George – The adult theme that popped out in this book was urbanization and peoples’ need for exercise and outside-time.

Next up is A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer.

Check out my spreadsheet of upcoming YA reads. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cake of the Week: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Fresh Strawberries

Friday was my boss’s last day of work, so we simultaneously celebrated her awesomeness and mourned her loss with cake – Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Fresh Strawberries to be exact.

This was my first new apartment baking venture, so YAY my oven works! Friday morning I boxed it up and metro’ed to the office, praying that the (albeit semi-sloppy) writing on top would arrive intact. (I like to think of myself as a good writer, and a good cake-baker…but writing on cake is clearly not my forte, so forgive me for the messiness and focus on the message and deliciousness.)

I don’t bake for everyone at the office - just those I really really like. Jenn hired me about a year ago (time flies!) and has taught me soooo much in that time – things I never even knew existed: information architecture, content strategy, and web accessibility to name a few. The Enough Project will miss her, but I know that NYC will love her!

At 4 pm we met for one final Online Comms meeting in her office, busted out the cake and some champagne and honored Jenn’s 2 years of accomplishments.

This is a cupcake recipe that I adapted to make a 3-layer cake. The cake is deeelicious – just the right amount of lemony. Between the layers I slathered frosting and laid out thinly sliced strawberries (I lost my camera in the move, so no process pictures – sorry!). Though it’s tempting to pile on more strawberries, they do add a degree of difficulty when it comes to balance and frosting the outside, so I suggest holding back a bit for appearance purposes.

Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Fresh Strawberries

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (about two medium-sized lemons – you’ll only need one lemon’s juice, so after zesting store the second lemon in a zip-lock bag or Tupperware to keep it fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups whole strawberries, washed and dried completely, then thinly sliced

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) at room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk or buttermilk as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour 3 9-inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. With an electric mixer with paddle attachment or stand mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down the sides as necessary.
  5. Beat in the lemon zest and the vanilla.
  6. Mix the lemon juice and the buttermilk together.
  7. Add the buttermilk/lemon mixture and the flour mixture to the batter in thirds. Pour 1/3 the flour mixture, then 1/3 the buttermilk mixture, beating until just combined, then repeat.
  8. Divide batter evenly between pans. 
  9. Bake for about 35 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to completely before frosting.
For the Frosting: 
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese, add in vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk.
  2. Beat in powdered sugar. 
  3. Add more milk or buttermilk as necessary to reach a spreadable consistency.


  1. Choose flattest layer for the bottom.
  2. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake and cover it with thinly sliced strawberries (make sure your strawberries are completely dry).
  3. This is a little different but worked quite well: instead of putting cake layer 2 directly on top of the strawberries, first spread a thin layer of frosting on the underside of it. So it goes: cake layer 1, thin layer of frosting, strawberries, thin layer of frosting, cake layer 2, etc. 
  4. Repeat between layers 2 and 3. If your cake appears unstable, push spaghetti noodles down through the layers to keep it upright (but warn people eating the cake about the potential for spaghetti; Mama rules: whomever gets a piece of spaghetti in their slice gets to make a wish!)
  5. Frost the outside of the cake completely. Store in the refrigerator, but take out at least an hour before serving.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Report: Rock Climbing and Camping in Shenandoah

After a weekend warm-up Friday night (Nats game and a party chez LORT-Emily’s BF), I got up early Saturday to start on my real weekend plans: rock climbing and camping in Shenandoah with climbing friends/co-workers Matt, JD, and Lauren.

By 8:30 the car was loaded and we were on our way, cruising through the Virginia countryside with the windows down and the music up (click here for this Weekend Report soundtrack). By 11:30 we were at Stony Man Cliffs, setting up ropes and looking out at this:

We met up with two other climbing friends, Brian and Dave, who had arrived Friday night and staked out a camping spot and two routes on Stony Man. The weather was absolutely perfect – warm but not too hot, sunny and fabulous.

Outside climbing is definitely a different animal than gym climbing. It’s more of an experience – setting up routes, sitting looking at the view, rappelling down, talking and watching others climb, etc. 

We didn’t actually climb that many times each, but it was really fun. Plus Stony Man is a 100-foot pitch, which is pretty much as high as you can go when top-roping.

(We met two girls -- "trail names" Blue and Maniac -- doing the Appalachian Trail and gave them their first opportunity to rappel and rock climb. They’ve been on the trail since March, starting in Georgia and planning to make it all the way to Maine. Oh and one of them was still in high school. Pretty freaking impressive.)

We stayed out until 6ish before heading back to camp where pure awesomeness awaited us. This trip was a bit of a last hurrah for Matt, our resident climbing expert, who is about to move across the country (to Petaluma actually!). So in honor of Matt and climbing and fun camping weekends, Dave cooked an absolutely amazing gourmet dinner on a camp stove: Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and naan. Yum!

And a cheesecake. That’s right – you usually don’t think of cheesecake and campfire together, but let me tell you, they go quite well. (No pictures survive, but it was pretty perfect.)

Sunday morning we were at it again, back to Stony Man for another shot at the wall. Our resident photographer JD snapped quite a few bad-ass pictures of us looking hard core(ish)... well as a few that reflect the decidedly less hard core side of the day...

This weekend will definitely be repeated, in various locations and on various rock faces.

But we're going to miss Matt!!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Best of the Week #59

A glorious Friday to you all! I have super-awesome weekend plans that include baseball, grilling, camping, rock climbing, and hiking. (Yes, all that this weekend.) When I return to you Monday I will likely be tired, sunburned, and sore – all in the best way possible.

Going to Shenandoah again! YAY!

In other news, last night I embarked on my first baking venture in my new apartment. Turns out my oven is bigger than I originally thought (weirdly deep…but hey that’s a good thing), and it was a success!

Thanks to Pinterest, my most popular post this week was The Best Pool Running/Aqua-Jogging Workouts. (I did a modified version of the "Steady Interval" one this morning.)

And now for your Best of the Week links!

I love elephants and this project is bizarre but cool. (I knew these existed for toads, but elephants are a lot bigger!) “Elephant Underpass Reuniting Kenya Herds.”

I spent four years in Massachusetts and had no idea how awesome it was! (source)
  • Massachusetts students rank fifth in the world in reading, lapping Singapore and Japan, and needless to say, every state in the union. In math, Massachusetts slots in a global ninth, ahead of Japan and Germany. 
  • A few other metrics of social well-being: The Bay State has the second-lowest teen birth rate, the fourth-lowest suicide rate, and the lowest traffic fatality rate. The birthplace of Dunkin’ Donuts has the sixth-lowest obesity rate. And depending on the source, the first state to legalize gay marriage has either the lowest or one of the very lowest divorce rates in the country.
This image from SUAR. I totally agree.

I just love this title: "27 ways to be an (even) better person & practically levitate with awesomery."
  • 16. Stop calling people ‘retarded,’ when you mean ‘dim-witted.’ And if you slip up once or twice, express profound remorse. Thrice in one evening? Slap yourself across the face. Grandly & forcefully.
  • 22. Keep it classy.
  • 24. Make no secret of your disappointment, if indeed you have been gravely disappointed. But create a ‘teachable moment’ out of your distaste. Be vocal, and constructive.
If only I were crafty, I'd make one of these out of plastic spoons.

In work news, I realize this subject (Sudan and South Sudan's committment to their agreements) is incredibly uninteresting to most people...but at least appreciate the beautifully color-coded timeline infographic I made! (Read more here.)

My CSA (Community Supported Agriculture - i.e. we get a share of veggies every week) is about to start and for the first few weeks LOTR-Emily (my partner in vegetables) is away, so I’ll have A LOT of veggies all to myself. I do love pickles…maybe I’ll try pickling things: “Tips on Pickling, Canning & Preserving This Year’s CSA Haul

And while we’re on the subject of veggies, here are “5 Steps to Freezer Success.”

Speaking of food and success, so far today is a “success," but we’ll see how long that lasts..

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cake of the Week: Slutty Brownies

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from the the kitchen of Sister1.

Have you heard of Slutty Brownies? [No! Do tell!] Or perhaps the longer but more PG title: Double Fudge Cookies and Cream Chocolate Chip Brownies? Whatever you want to call them they are pretty amazing.

After seeing a recipe for these bars on multiple blogs I decided that I had to try them. They are a lot of work if you decide to make the brownies and cookie dough from scratch, but I enjoy some baking “work” and these bars are definitely worth it. Just make sure you have somewhere to bring them, or a friend, spouse, or office to give them me, you don't want to be home alone with these!

According to Geoff [brother-in-law] as he took his first Slutty Brownie bite, “The first word that comes to mind is confusing.” He couldn't tell what part he liked better -- just brownie and cookie, or everything all together at once. For me, the real magic happened when I got everything in one bite. Oreo cookie flavor is just so delicious! [I wish I were there to taste and offer an opinion! Overnight mail next time? Yes please?]

I won't be making these often because they are so dangerous (in the best way possible), but I'm glad I tried them! 

I made the brownie batter and cookie dough from scratch but you could also use mixes for both.

Slutty Brownies aka Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar

Original recipe from Kevin and Amanda

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips

Brownie Ingredients: 

(OR you can use a family-sized brownie mix prepared according to the box instructions.)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I didn’t use these)


  • 1 pkg Double Stuffed Oreos


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with wax paper and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer: Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to thoroughly combine. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into the mixer until the flour is just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. 
  4. For the Brownie Layer (from KAF): In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  5. While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
  6. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.
  7. Add the flour, again stirring until smooth. 
  8. Assembly: Spread the cookie dough in the bottom of your prepared pan.
  9. Top the cookie dough with a layer of Oreos. 
  10. Pour the brownie batter over the cookie dough and Oreos. 
  11. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15-25 minutes. 
  12. Let cool completely before cutting — brownies may still be gooey in the middle when still warm, but will set up perfectly once cooled. 

Note: To half this recipe for an 8×8 brownie mix, simply half the chocolate chip cookie dough ingredients.