Mom’s got a birthday coming up

Linda Conway Eriksson - Contributing Columnist

I have a birthday coming up. This is always a time for me to take stock of myself, my life, and the world around me.

I am a glass half full kind of person. By that I mean I won’t ever see my glass as half empty, and thus be miserable by choice. There are too many things in life to rejoice over and laugh about to focus on that which falls short. Birthdays bother some people — another year older, isn’t that sad? Well, it’s not as sad as the alternative. As long as you live, each day is a chance to get things right.

Are there things I’d change if it were in my power? Most definitely. But some of those situations are global in scope, and far too vast and complex for ordinary mortals to take on. I am not a Ghandi, nor am I another Mother Teresa, that’s for sure.

I am, however, a thinking, functioning human being. I may not even be able to affect change in everything that directly pertains to me, but I am in charge of my reactions. That part is up to me, and no one else.

It’s good to reflect from time to time. It’s even better to look ahead when you can, study the alternatives and choose your path.

So happy birthday to me, and also to you whenever yours rolls around.

One thing that continues to keep my glass more full than empty is cooking. There always seems to be a new recipe or ingredient popping up from somewhere, and that makes life interesting.

Not long ago I attended a meeting for which a staff member had made cookies. As people around the room were served there was a murmur of appreciation from those who’d had a chance to have a taste. When the cookies got to me, I found out what it was all about.

These cookies, from Samantha Merritt’s blog, are one more reason to be glad for another birthday.


1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup Nutella

1 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

2 eggs (room temperature)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces semisweet chocolate bar very finely chopped

sea salt for sprinkling

Prepare the Nutella filling. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and drop by 2 teaspoon sized dollops onto cookie sheet. Place in the freezer to harden while you prepare the cookie dough.

Cut butter into tablespoon sized pieces and place in a medium saucepan. Melt over medium low heat. Once butter has melted, increase heat to just above medium. Swirl and scrape the sides of the pan frequently with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. The butter will bubble and pop. Once the bubbling slows, the butter will begin to turn brown. Watch the butter very carefully, and once it begins to brown and you smell the nutty aroma, remove from heat quickly and pour into a large, heatproof bowl.

Allow butter to cool for 25 to 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Add sugars into cooled butter. Stir well. Stir in eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and stir.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until ingredients are completely combined. Add chopped chocolate bar and stir well. Chill dough in refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove frozen Nutella from freezer and cookie dough from refrigerator. Scoop dough by heaping 1 1/2 tablespoon sized spoonful and press frozen Nutella dollop into the center. Form around Nutella until it is completely concealed. Add more dough as needed.

Roll into an even ball and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all Nutella dollops are concealed in cookie dough. Freeze cookie dough balls for 15 minutes. Place cookie dough at least 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 13 minutes, or unto edges are just beginning to turn golden brown.

Sprinkle immediately with sea salt. Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before removing. They will be quite fragile when warm, but will become more sturdy as they cool.

Makes about 30 big cookies.

Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at