How Nutella saved my GPA

by Toula Nikas

It was second year and I had just about had it with Aristotle and Plato. The dreaded political philosophy course—a mandatory for the University of Toronto political science major—was the bane of my angst-y second-year existence. I hadn’t done incredibly well on the first few assignments and the only two opportunities to improve my grade were an essay and the final exam. Things were looking rough, but being the scrappy undergraduate I was—fueled by caffeine and adrenaline—I had an idea. I would meet with my TA with a list of prepared questions as well as a small batch of baked goods.

So I whipped up a list of questions and a fresh batch of brown butter Nutella-stuffed chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt on top. (They were—and still are—my specialty.) I met with my TA and his advice turned out to be incredibly helpful (meeting with your TAs and professors truly makes all the difference). I then handed him a small stack of cookies wrapped in tinfoil and said, “Thank you for a great year and for all of your help. I made these as a little thank you.”

He sent me a follow-up email the next day just to tell me how good the cookies were. Pleased with my efforts, I crossed my fingers that those cookies (and admittedly, some extra studying) would help me out. I ended up getting an amazing grade on the final paper and an even better grade on the final exam. I was elated. And, while I have to give myself credit for studying incredibly hard, I couldn’t help but think that the taste of those delicious cookies remained in my TA’s mouth as he marked my work.

Here’s the recipe for the cookies. Make a batch. Keep the majority for yourself, but save three to four, wrap them in tinfoil and bring them to your TA or professor’s office hours. Not only are they delicious, they’re also life/GPA-saving.

Brown Butter Nutella-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Brown Butter Nutella-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

(Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator

coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and whisk continuously until the butter begins to foam, crackle and brown. The butter will turn a deep amber color and begin to smell like hazelnuts. When you’ve reached this point, transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  3. Once the butter has cooled, in another mixing bowl beat together the sugars and butter until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Next, beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla and Greek yogurt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating all the while. Once fully incorporated, fold in chocolate chips. Allow the dough to sit in the fridge for two hours—this ensures a nice, chewy cookie.
  4. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Take a small spoonful of dough, flatten it into a pancake, spoon a spoonful of chilled Nutella into the centre and reshape the dough around the Nutella until you have a ball again. Place onto a greased baking sheet, and sprinkle with a bit of the salt. Repeat until all of the dough is gone.
  6. Bake for eight to ten minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Allow cookies to cool completely before serving.