Thursday, November 5, 2015


I'm not going to tell you how thrilled I am for the comeback of high-waisted jeans.

How many times in the past week I listened to the new Adele song.

That I can do 15 pushups.

I'm not going to tell you how proud I am of my son for talking shit about Trump on the playground.

How gratifying it is to watch my kids load the dishwasher without being asked.

How often I think of my daughter's birth: those first few moments, feeling her heart beating through her neck and fingertips and shins.

I'm not going to tell you how motherhood is the most fulfilling experience ever.

Instead, I'm going to tell you about the gutted feeling that washes over me when I sit in the car, flipping through social media apps on my phone, waiting for soccer practice to end.

How three times over the past month, I have given up on my messy house, my marriage, my book, my everything, driven to the mall, and bought grey sweaters for the California winter we will never have.

How I woke up last Monday to the W.H.O. news story about the possible connection between eating processed meats and cancer and immediately went out for a bacon cheeseburger.

I'm going to tell you how during a recent morning scramble, I yelled at my son with such intensity that he ran away and I thought he was gone forever.

That I cried during the school earthquake drill, imagining the chaos of the big one.

I'm going to tell you how sometimes my body feels completely turned off, done, retired.

I'm going to tell you how often I take a deep breath in order to stay at the table.

How often I bake cookies in order to stay awake.

How, as a parent, you never get to step back or unfurl or move on or detach.

I'm going to tell you about the homeless man I see every Tuesday afternoon next to the I-580 onramp who holds up the I will take anything you can give me sign, his sad drunken eyes boring so deeply into mine that I have to look away and pray for the light to change because I can't bear what I am thinking: he is somebody's child, he is somebody's child, oh fuck, he is somebody's child.
(Stuffed with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)
(Stuffed with Junior Mints)
I have made these cookies six times in the past ten days. I have handed them out to women in bars, children in cars, friends at dinner parties. They are so fun to make, ridiculously sweet, and way over the top. They make people smile and grab and moan.

Sometimes a bit of candy escapes while they are baking. Don't panic. Just make sure to cool them on the sheet pan.

Don't overcook them or you will be sad. This happened with batch #3 and my daughter and I agreed that life is too short for dry, over-baked Nutella cookies. 

I have just started reading about Nutella and palm oil and deforestation. I wish I could tell you that these cookies work beautifully with other chocolate hazelnut spreads. But I haven't tested out any of them out. Please let me know if you make these cookies with a Nutella alternative. I am learning along with you.

makes 10 big cookies

My daughter found this recipe online last year. We have searched and searched but we can't find it again. I have modified it a bit, but, if it looks familiar, please let me know. I would love to give proper credit to the original recipe writer.

You can stuff these cookies with almost any kind of candy. Or nothing at all. On their own, they are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. But when you stuff them, they become mystery cookies. Here are a few ideas for the filling: 1/2 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, 3 Junior Mints, 4 mini marshmallows, 1 Special Dark Hershey's chocolate bar. PLAY!!!

1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), soft
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup Nutella, room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
candy of your choice (see headnote for some ideas)
1/3 cup white sugar, for rolling cookies

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer (or by hand), cream the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar for two minutes on high speed. Scrape down the sides. Add Nutella and beat for another 20 seconds on medium speed. Scrape down the sides. Add the egg. Mix on medium for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla and mix for another 5 seconds on medium speed. Scrape down the sides. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until almost all the flour in incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Add the second 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix on low until almost all incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture. MIx on low until the final traces of flour just disappear. Don't overmix! Chill the dough for an hour if you have time (not necessary but it will make the assembly a bit easier).

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpats. Pour white sugar (for rolling) on a plate. Divide the dough into 10 equal-sized pieces (about 2  1/4 ounces each). Tear a ball of dough in half, press candy in the center, cover with other half of the dough, roll in your hands until you can't feel or see the candy filling. Roll the dough ball in the white sugar. Place on the sheet pan. They spread quite a bit so leave several inches between each cookie.

Bake for 7 minutes. They are done the moment the center melts and starts to settle down. Let the cookies cool a bit on the pan and firm up because if you move the cookies when they're too warm, the candy might ooze out the bottom. The cookies are best eaten within a few hours. They are also really good frozen (late at night with red wine).

If you freeze the baked cookies and then thaw them, they will still taste good but they will lose they're glorious crispness. A better option is to freeze the stuffed cookie dough balls after you have rolled them in sugar. Freeze the balls of dough up to 6 months in a Ziploc bag. When you bake off the frozen balls, you should turn the temperature down to 350°F and bake them for a few extra minutes.


  1. You make me cry. Every time. Regardless of whether or not Nutella is involved. Can't wait to make these, though must first wrangle some unsuspecting child's Halloween candy.

    1. lily, have you watched any of the jimmy kimmel videos where parents pretend to steal the kids' candy? some people think it's mean. i think it's hilarious.

      your words make me cry too. xoxo

  2. Dude, you knocked in out of the park with this one. LOVE your words and love you too.

  3. I threw all my leftover Halloween candy in the garbage to avoid eating it. S**t! But I'll try making these with Safeway brand hazelnut spread, better than Nutella, believe it.
    High waisted jeans, hurray! Love your words, too.

    1. i'm open to any chocolate hazelnut spread. i'll try that one. thank you.

  4. I love this post so much. But especially that last bit.

    1. thank you, ashlae. the last bit was what i wrote first. it was where i started. funny how it became the end.

  5. I had to tell you that I laughed out loud at: "How I woke up last Monday to the W.H.O. news story about the possible connection between eating processed meats and cancer and immediately went out for a bacon cheeseburger." Woman after my own heart. I've been craving SPAM all week.

    And also: Don't give up on that book. The rest of us need to read it. And we need the courage that comes from watching someone turn the impossible into the possible.

    Thanks for the lovely read, as always. xx

    1. not giving up! thank you. and SPAM? hilarious. i've never tried it.

  6. I would give the drunk, homeless guy a little bag of your cookies. But that's just me. Love all of your honest, gut-wrenching posts.
    Maralyn Woods

    1. i considered doing that! maybe i will tomorrow.

  7. I love all of your posts so much. I just recently found out about you and went back and read a lot of them all at once. My favorite is the french toast one. Your writing is just beautiful. Monica

    1. the french toast one is my favorite ever. thank you for reminding me. thank you for reading.

  8. Could they be from here - the cocoa? Yours looks delicious!


  10. I think there are likely legions of us restless mamas at our ovens, rolling out dough between our fingers, building bridges made of sugar and cocoa and letting the scary thoughts scurry where they may. The difference is that you find the words to say what we live. I salute you and will have seventeen slices of an excellent salami in your honor.

  11. Your words really speak to me, especially since I've been having an especially difficult time with my own children. Thank you, Phyllis.

  12. What a beautiful post. Thank you for offering a glimpse of the very real life you're living. It's always a treat to read your words!

  13. I feel like I am reading about me - a younger version obviously. But we do survive.A lot of crazy stuff happens and you think you learn from it, then a new twist is added. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
    Children are forgiving. They love you unconditionally. And, you will always wake up, as I still do, from a dream involving your kids that scares the pajamas off you.
    Thank you for the gooey, sweet treats. We will love 'em.

  14. As usual, I am right there with you, Phyllis!

  15. The earthquake drills get me every time. I have never in my life been more vulnerable-feeling than now, as a mother. I love your words.

  16. god, you're good. write the book. with a lump in my throat and a knowing ache in my heart, you make me feel seen and proud to be a mom.

  17. Your words get me Every. Single. Time. And now I need to make these cookies for my kids.

  18. Your words have such power here, you really capture life's harsh realities and how brutal things can be. But you ALSO give us cookies. Are you a genius?

  19. Yes, she is a genius and this post had me weeping with the reality of life as a mother woman spouse SELF and I thank you...for how you expressed*

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  22. This recipe looks so delicious and easy to do. Will try to do it for my family last week.

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