sometimes we’re wrong about things & we know it. the instant pang of regret we feel after deftly delivering an unnecessarily low blow in the heat of an argument; the apprehensive renegotiation of space that occurs in our minds after people we’ve filed in the “dislike” category redeem themselves following an unfavorable first impression; the empty, exhausted feeling that settles in around us, heavy, like a blanket when we waste all our energy trying to appeal to a mind that we knew from the beginning was never going to change.
other times, we’re right on. this is the way my intuition is, mostly. as much as i hate my gut for all of the horribly accurate sinking feelings it’s let me in on before the time was ripe, i have to say it’s got a pretty accurate bullshit reading. i’ve learned to stopped giving undeserving people the benefit of the doubt; trust is a delicate thing to give away to those who would, in a moment, snap like a twig the emotional limb you’ve gone out on in order to extend it to them. i finally acknowledge my instincts for what they are: right, most of the time.
then there are the situations in which there is no clear moral choice; the questions that have no right or wrong answer. i reserve a special kind of skepticism for issues with this particular property. law school professors will tell you in a peaceful tone not far from that of a pontificating yoga teacher, there is no right or wrong answer. it sounds encouraging at the time, but sometimes when i get my grades back at the end of a semester, i often wish i begged to differ. law school exams are full of examples of the most inconsequential of life’s questions, though. i’m concerned now with the larger ones. like, do i play it safe or scratch my itch?
this is the question i’ve been meditating on while practicing yoga the past few days, especially when i drop to my knees & take child’s pose. it is here that i am often reminded to surrender to uncertainties & other things i can’t change. my knees spread wide, coaxing my hips to loosen while my chest melts down low, relaxing toward the ground (“yes, let it feel sensual,” says one of my favorite yoga teachers). my fingertips reach out long ahead of me & my spine lengthens forward while i rock my forehead back & forth on my mat, massaging out the space between my brows. in this safe, supported posture, i’ve realized more than once that as with most matters of the heart, big or small, i already know how i feel. it’s just a matter of trusting myself.
like child’s pose, these salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars are, for me, an exercise in playing it safe. i’ve made them many times before. they are dependable — they always turn out perfectly when i have all the right ingredients, but even when i have to improvise, they still produce “mmm’s,” “oohs,” & “ahhs.” they also stay perfect & doughy forever; i once tried mailing them to an incorrect address & they came back to me a week later, tasting so freshly baked i swore they were still warm.
salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars
-4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking soda
-24 tbsp butter, melted & cooled to room temperature
-2 cup light brown sugar
-1 cup granulated sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 large egg yolks
-4 teaspoons vanilla extract
-2 cups chocolate chips
-1 cup caramel sauce (may need to be softened if not liquid-y enough to be poured)
-ground sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel & bars
1. preheat oven to 325 degress & grease a 9x13x2 inch baking dish (i use glass).
2. in a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, eggs & vanilla until combined well.
3. stir together dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) right on top of the wet ones.
4. fold wet & dry ingredients into each other until everything is combined well.
5. fold in the chocolate chips.
6. divide dough into two equal parts & press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.
7. pour caramel sauce on top & sprinkle moderately with ground sea salt.
8. press the remaining half of the dough into the pan on top of the caramel layer. don’t worry if caramel peaks through.
9. sprinkle some more sea salt on top of the second layer of dough. pop into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the dough turns golden around the edges & starts pulling away from the pan.
*makes 24 generously-sized squares
**adapted from two peas & their pod