Cookie Dough-Topped Brownies

I have a whole lot to say in this post.  It’s going to have a happy ending full of cookie dough-topped brownies and a very special cookbook giveaway, but in the meantime I’m going to talk about small towns and hurricanes and good neighbors, and here in the beginning I’m going to say how blessed the Southern husband and I feel to live in a town where we are surrounded by the kindness of our friends, our family, our neighbors and a whole lot of people who reach out and help no matter what is swirling around us.  So here I go.

We are lucky enough to live in one of the prettiest little towns in New Jersey you would ever want to see.  Our town is situated in a valley right along a lovely river.

Once upon a time it was a farming village, and while we don’t have too many cows left around us these days, the memories of those days are still all around us, including some beautiful old buildings, like my parents’ 200 year old farmhouse and this lovely old house in the center of town across from our general store.

(Yep, we have a general store.  Its name is Elmer’s.)

Our town used to have a grist mill, and while the stones now are taking a rest from grinding grain, they are still here.

A few weeks ago, however, our sleepy little town turned upside down.  An unwelcome guest named Sandy came to visit, and while we didn’t suffer anywhere near the heartbreaking devastation that our sister towns up and down the beautiful Jersey shore did, we all woke up to a permanently changed landscape that Tuesday morning.  I walked outside my house, which used to be lined with giant, hundred year old pine trees, and tears started rolling down my face.

There most of them were, lying across the yard all in a row.  They had stood guard over us for so many years, and as their last good deed they fell away from our house instead of towards it.  There must have been a guardian angel watching over us.

Within an hour, there were friends at our house with chainsaws and hugs.  They had driven around scores of other downed trees and wires to get to us, to make sure we were okay and to help.

And through the next week through dropping temperatures our house and thousands around us had no power, which meant most of our town had very little heat, lights, gas…all those things you’ve been reading about or maybe going through yourselves.  But what we did have in abundance was compassion.  We had calls (hurray for the old-fashioned land line!) and offers of help from all over.  The few folks with with power offered up their showers, their spare rooms and their electrical outlets to other neighbors.  Our heroic town employees and volunteers worked night and day through dropping temperatures and eventually snow to clear trees, provide water and ice and information and comfort.  Our community is slowly coming back, and we’re getting there with the help of one another.  Our one small town has been one big family.

Which brings me to my recipe and my giveaway.  This past summer I was lucky enough to be part of a community cookbook project that was put together by an enthusiastic and dedicated group of folks from right here in my small town.  I love community cookbooks…you find some of the very best, time-tested, beloved recipes in them…and I was tickled pink when they asked me to both photograph the cover AND contribute a few recipes.  Here’s how it turned out.

Isn’t it beautiful?  I promised I’m not one little bit biased.

This cookbook has a wealth of recipes that are the favorites of so many of the good folks from my little town.  And while it would have been precious to me before, the fact that it came out just as we were all helping each other get back on our feet seemed just so right to me.  Because now more than ever, I have learned first-hand about the overwhelming kindness of both friends and strangers, and the blessedness of living in my own, still beautiful corner of the world.

So please enjoy the sweet and easy brownie recipe  from this cookbook featured below…I gave these brownies to one of the good friends down the road who helped us weather our part of the storm.  If you’d like to purchase one of these cookbooks for your own, please click here to find out how.  And in the meantime, I have two copies to give away!  Just leave me a comment below telling me what you love about your own home town, and on Saturday I will randomly pick two lucky winners.

Last but not least, if you are looking for a place to help out some of the folks still hurting from Sandy, here are a few places you can donate.

Jersey Shore Relief

Community Food Bank of New Jersey

The United Way Hurricane Sandy Relief

Thanks for listening.  And to everyone who reached out to us and others with help and comfort over the past several weeks…thank you.

This giveaway is now closed…but you can still enjoy the great brownie recipe below!

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies
Serves: 20-24 brownies, depending on how you cut them!
  • 1 package brownie mix, plus ingredients to prepare it
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Prepare brownies according to package directions, using a 13x9 inch pan lined with foil sprayed with cooking spray. Allow the foil to extend over the edges as this will let you lift the brownies out of the pan easily. Cool completely.
  2. When brownies are cooled, lift them carefully out of the pan, using the foil edges as a handle, and place on a cutting surface.
  3. Combine butter, sugars, milk and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and mix well. Stir in flour until completely combined, then stir in chocolate chips. (This will give you a "cookie dough" that is perfectly safe to eat, as there are no raw eggs in it.)
  4. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough on top of the cooled brownie. Using your fingers, gently press down on the dough until it is spread evenly across the top of the brownie.
  5. Cut the brownies into small squares (a pizza cutter works well for this if you have one!) and serve.

Recipe adapted from TREASURED RECIPES


Want a photo beside your name? Go to, sign up for a free account, and upload a photo. It's super easy!

  1. Karen Nelson says

    We live in a suburb of a larger area, in Northern California. Even though
    people are bustling about, there is still the feel of
    community where a smile or kindness to go ahead in the grocery line
    because “you just have a couple of items”, still abounds.
    People do turn out to help one another in the joys and pitfalls of
    our lives. Where I work we share hugs and laughs and tears over
    the same joys and sadness that change our lives forever.
    We enjoy living in a central area close to the ocean or the mountains or
    the Napa Valley where in a couple of hours you are there. We also enjoy
    the title of City of Trees where the change of color reminds us of the changing seasons.
    We are rich in California history as well.
    All in all…it’s home:-)

  2. says

    There’s a cute old fashioned diner in my hometown that I absolutely love! Everyone knows each other there, and it’s a great place to go anytime — they serve everything under the sun!

  3. Tricia says

    What I love most about my hometown is the canal that runs through “downtown”. Along the canal are all kinds of walking paths, shops, restaurants, and parks. It is such a wonderful place to be together as a family, and we always run into friends and neighbors.

  4. angela says

    I have lived in four places, a suburb of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Montclair NJ and now Sioux Falls SD. So it’s hard to talk about one “home town”. I think I am like a pine tree. I grow fast and put down deep roots where ever I am planted. The thing I have found is that people are people where ever you go. : -) If you love people you can live everywhere. Each one of my “hometowns” is special to me. I love the people. .

  5. Linda says

    I was the lucky recipient of these delicious brownies, thank you Kate! Chocolate is on the very top of my favorite list, so with chocolate chips AND brownie this is going to b kept in my “special” recipes file.

  6. Jessica J says

    I love the comfort and familiarity of my hometown. Whenever I go back to visit my mom, I feel welcomed and it’s always such a treat.

  7. Diane N says

    I now live in the center of my town and while only for a short time, I have felt more a part of the “community” by being right in the middle of it all. When our town went “dark” so did our downtown, except for our town “diner”…that place was jumping and I kept thinking how great it was for people to have a place to go. My landlord even left me a gift after the storm blew by with a nice note saying “hope you survived Sandy” with a plate of “Sandy Blonde” brownies. Now I have to try yours too!

  8. Mike says

    I grew up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle; it’s situated down in a valley (the valley so low!) along a creek lined with huge cottonwood trees. I miss the good folks down there, but also miss walking along the banks of that creek in the late afternoon, listening to the 100+ year old trees “talk” to me as the wind rustles their leaves.

  9. Jenny C. says

    We have lived in our house for 6 months, and already feel comfortable enough calling our town my “hometown”. It’s a great size (not too big, not too small), with quirky shops, great malls, any restaurant you can think of, entertainment galore, and nice people. I love that my favorite grocery store is only two minutes away. Our street is quiet and peaceful, and our neighbors are very friendly.

  10. Sue B. says

    We have lived all over New Jersey. I grew up in the town right next to yours and was smiling (and crying a little) when I saw the pics of your trees. I knew right away when I saw the picture of the old house, and the mention of “Elmer’s” that I was correct. It has been a very difficult couple of weeks, seeing our hometown, our current town and the entire state changed forever by Sandy. We still live in small town, NJ and are so happy to have a “mainstreet, USA” feeling about our home. Our local police, fire, emergency and DPW crews have also been working tirelessly on our behalf and for that we are truly grateful. We are blessed by our fellow New Jerseyans, their spirit and sense of community and helpfulness are what set us all apart from the stereotypes shown on t.v. New Jersey surely is a great place to live.

  11. Toni M says

    Kate, you are indeed lucky to be part of a wonderful family and a wonderful community. Your house and hospitality have always been open and warm to everyone who knows you and, I suspect, to strangers. I am so glad, but not surprised, that you received the same back when you needed it. And I know you will throw yourself into the community even more than before. I love being part of a small town and having good friends who are willing to give you warmth, lights, a shower, and a place to sleep if needed. I hope to be just as good a friend. Thank you for your post….it was inspiring.

  12. Erin D. says

    I love how safe and quiet my hometown is. Now that I’ve lived in more urban, upbeat areas, I’ve grown to miss the slower pace of my suburban hometown, especially its lack of traffic.

  13. susan halley says

    You are an amazing person. I sincerly mean that. I have no clue how you manage to do all that you do. This site is lovely. Your recipes are wonderful and the images tastefully created. The cookie dough brownies are yummy. I made them with an organic brownie mix and dark chocolate morsels since I am a chocolate maniac!

  14. Lizzy says

    I live in a border town, and I what I love is the sense of community the culture arounds me affords. It isn’t beautiful, but I love it.

  15. Amy says

    Glad all you lost was power and trees. I live on St. Simons Island, GA, and we’ve been quite lucky storm-wise this season. Thanks for all the great recipes. Stay safe!

  16. Julie B says

    I live in a big city and what I love is whatever food I feel like eating I can hop on a train and literally stop off in China town, Little Italy, Urkrainian village…You get the picture. My dream has always been to live in a small coastal town but since the hurricane I have wondered do I still want to do that? YES I DO!

  17. says

    I can’t even imagine what you went through…being without power all those days, but I am SO GLAD that you are okay and surrounded by all of this compassion and kindness!!

  18. Lori K says

    The greatest thing about living in a small town is not worrying when your sons are out playing with friends or running around the school, to the One-Stop, or walking home from workouts because you know they’ll be back home before supper.

  19. Christi P. says

    What I loved about my hometown is that as in “Cheers” everybody knows your name. It was a very small community and I am telling you I didn’t get by with anything that my mom and dad didn’t know about :) It was a great town to grow up in. I have since moved to a college community and it is wonderful…I am getting to watch my grandbabies grow up and be close. Glad you are alright and safe!!

  20. Amy Gieszl says

    I live in Phoenix..definitely not a small town, but my home town since age 2. I love the “small town” feel of my Arcadia neighborhood…can’t go to the grocery store without allowing twenty extra minutes for chit-chat with a friend! And this time of year, I love that we’ll be hosting a 50+ people family reunion outdoors next Sunday afternoon…75 degrees and sunshine!

  21. annie says

    I grew up in a relatively small town in Southern NH in the 70’s and 80’s and my family had only been there a few years, when the snow storm of the decade came out of no where dumping 3 feet of snow. We lost power and heat for over a week. Even as a child I remember how the whole town came together to help each other. I met and made all my high school besties that storm and many of us have been friends for life. While it has grown into a huge city now and I no longer recognize any of it when I travel through, the memories of what once were are still like yesterday. Must be why I have always been drawn to small town life myself.
    Glad you are all safe and sound. . .

  22. Lisa G says

    I live in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. What I love about it, is that it is small enough that my husband and I can walk around the whole town on any given day and enjoy the beautiful scenery around town, and the gorgeous views of the creek that is nearby!

  23. barbara n says

    I live in a very small town where doors are never locked, people wave greetings as you pass by and we have a wonderful farmers market on Thursdays!

  24. megan says

    I love that its mine! Its small and has some features that need updating but it’s mine. It’s a place that I can relax in and have people over. I have a place that holds memories and am hopeful it will continue to be the place where memories are created.

  25. John Marshall says

    Bainbridge Island has all the pleasures and attributes of a progressive small town, with a picturesque downtown, many organic farms & markets, an activist populace, intriguing eateries, walking trails, varied parks, community events, dedicated readers & writers who often gather often at a thriving independent bookstore — and yet all of these enviable things are located just an often dazzling 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle.

  26. Jocelyn W says

    So glad to hear you came through the storm ok. I live all the way over in Idaho so we don’t have hurricanes but we do have feet of snow and below zero weather (hopefully not for another month). I love our very little small town. We only have a population of a little over 300 some 900 in the county. I think because we are so small that when things do happen you can always count on your neighbors and friends!

  27. Karen Haney says

    I grew up in a small farming community in Minnesota. What I love, is when a farmer falls ill, or worse, unexpectantly dies, the other farmers from miles around stop their own field work to come and help the family of the sick/ailing farmer. I’ve literally seen 15 cobines in a field harvesting the crops. People bring meals to feed all of these hard workers, trucks to haul the grain; it’s amazing. I wouldn’t want to be from any other place in the world.

  28. Gwen Wangler says

    We had a house fire 4 years ago…just before Halloween. We were stuck in a motel for almost a month while repairs were made. (Ever smelled just smoke damage inside a house?…Not counting the actual burned stuff.) The night we moved back home (right before Thanksgiving) one of our neighbors showed up with a cornucopia of gifts she had collected from our wonderful neighbors up and down our block…including people I had never met…Cash, gift cards, food, household goods and even a flower arrangement for our Thanksgiving table. Best neighbor hood in the world! (San Diego, CA…a pretty big city but a small neighborhood)

  29. Cassie says

    I love our home and our town’s small-town feel. It’s from the 1800s, but there’s a mall 1 mile the other way. You’d just never know it.

  30. Steven says

    When I lived 25+ years on Long Island, I managed to survive 3 separate hurricanes over those years, in a quaint little town on the south shore named Mastic Beach.
    I really feel for what all of you are going through there in the great state of New Jersey, as our hearts go out to you all.
    Stay strong, stay warm, and god bless you all…

  31. marty says

    I live in a small town in Northern Ky. Actually i live in the country…not a town at all. We were very lucky in that the storm didn’t get near us but My daughter had to evacuate Rockaway NY with her prematurely born twin boys. She is stayin in Pa with her in laws now. Probably lost everything they had. But they saved the most important thing in the world. Their boys Matthew & Timothy.


  32. Susan D says

    My small town survived a tornado last year. I saw strangers become family. It’s amazing what can draw people together. I love our bakery and the cider mill in town, both equally drawing business from afar. We have a river that runs around the town and the fall is gorgeous!!

  33. Marcia says

    My hometown has beautiful old victorian homes! They have a great downtown area with cute shops and restaurants, where they hold the farmer’s market and holiday fests.

  34. Signe says


    A community cookbook! I wish we did stuff like that in Denmark. That looks absolutely amazing!

    I clicked post comment before i was done by accident -.-

    My home town is the second largest town in Denmark, which doesn’t really say much. About 300.000 people. It’s beautiful though, they call it the city of smiles. It has everything from beaches and forests to nice shopping areas, theatres and museums.

  35. Dani says

    I just moved back to my childhood hometown after living in a small city for the past several years. I love how the people actually take notice of each other here, and I can safely let my children run back and forth between my house and my neghbor’s without an overdose of stress.

  36. says

    Oh dear! I’m so saddened to see all who have been affected by the hurricane- it was such a terrible force. And so strange to see it all happening on TV for those of us sitting here in sunny California. My husband was back there the week after the hurricane (Jersey) and saw some of the devastation. He was in a hotel where there were families hunkered down. So sorry for all you had to go through.

    I love community cookbooks too- collect them, in fact. What I love about my home town- the kids can play outside in the neighborhood for hours and we don’t have to worry about them. We all look out for each other.

  37. says

    I love the burger joints and catfish places to eat!!! current town is a part of a huge metroplex but nothing here really compares to the burger places and catfish dinners back home!

  38. Amanda says

    The “downtown” section of my hometown is an adorable 4 blocks of artisan shops, cafes, an ice cream parlor, and the beautiful village green. In fall the colors are amazing, in winter the holiday decorations fill me with cheer, and in spring and summer there are farmers markets and outdoor concerts. It’s perfect and I have so many wonderful memories from there which I hold hear now that live far away.

    Sending good wishes to your community for a speedy recovery from the hurricane!

  39. Sarah H.P. says

    The thing I love about my hometown is its location right on the banks of the Mississippi River. Growing up by it my entire life I often took its beauty for granted, but as a more mature adult I can now see what makes my home so amazing!

  40. Charlene Thompson says

    I am so sorry about the problems you all have been going through. We live in Oklahoma, so we kinda know about how Mother Nature can cause destruction. We have moved from the town I lived in most of my life, but we are already settling in. Our town is listed as one of the great places to retire to. We have found everyone to be so friendly and welcoming.

  41. Barbara P. says

    I live in Trieste and what I love most about this wonderful city is that it is facing the sea, is a cosmopolitan city, where you meet so many different cultures, people of all ethnic groups, making it rich and spiritually enriches those who live there.
    Love your Cookie Dough Topped Brownies!!

  42. says

    What I love about my hometown is that it will always feel like home, no matter how old I am. It is like a warm hug enveloping me as soon as I come back.

  43. says

    I love the spontaneous gathering on front steps to catch up with dear neighbors, marvel at their wonderful kids and just being content that we live where we were meant to live…we feel blessed

  44. Patti says

    Your blessed to be surrounded by such a wonderful community. I live in New York and lost power for a week do to a fallen tree. The worst of it was not having heat. My block of 15 houses was affected. On the night of the storm when the tree fell on the power lines a “kind” neighbor knocked on my door to see if I was alright.
    When I finally got my power back I was so thankful that I knew the next step was to help others who were still without. I found out that our local bank set up a collection site to help victims of the Queens, Breezy Point areas to which I have been helping by donating food and clothing.
    Next, baking brownies to share!
    Stay safe!

  45. ruthie says

    I wondered how you and your family had fared, so I’m glad to hear it wasn’t worse for you and that you live in such a great community.

    I know the giveaway is over, but…I grew up mostly in San Francisco, by my mom’s family lived in the Sonoma wine country. We spent weekends there almost every week for years, and that was my home base for most of each summer. It’s change so much since then, but it still has that small town charm. Well, it is still a small town. 😉

    I also lived in Tucson, which I adored for many reasons, and in Baltimore, which I also loved. I guess I’m able to put down roots wherever I light. Home is what you make of it, and I’m sure your warmhearted kindness has help your community be even more close knit.

    Take care. Did the rosemary survive? 😉

  46. says

    That’s cool you have a general store, I always love stopping in them :) Those are some big trees down, wow! I’m glad you guys were OK. I also live in NJ and am still amazed at the destruction Hurricane Sandy did. Now on to your brownie recipe, they look delicious. They are a must make.


Let's Talk!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *