nourishing & unapologetic
I have a confession: I am pretty obsessed with food. I am always looking forward to the next meal. I pin recipes constantly. I can spend hours at the grocery store looking at the offerings. My favorite books are culinary murder mysteries (yes, that genre exists!). The downside, I don't have the metabolism of a hummingbird. (thanks genetics...) so I have to keep my obsession in check.
I kind of wish I could say that I was a naturally healthy cook, that I loved eating clean, and I only bought all-natural, local food. But really I don't and probably won't. Clean eating would be Nick's department. I kid you not. He's a naturally healthy eater. At any special occasion, he'll bypass the desserts and dips as he beelines for the vegetable tray. (Word to the wise, If you want any broccoli or cauliflower, get there before he does.)
As a former fat kid (FFK), I should eat like Nick. But if you see me by the vegetable tray, know it took a lot of intentional thought, willpower, and probably guilt. Admittedly, I like all things that are bad for me. Thus, I believe in moderation and not denying yourself indulgences. Trust me, the world does not want me to give up sweets or carbs...it wouldn't be pretty.
Now you might be doubting that I was a FFK, but as soon as I track down a photo, I'll revise the post with it. I can tell you being an FFK totally shapes your self-perspective. I can rattle off the weights written on most of grade cards (which by the way is a traumatic practice that I hope has been discontinued) as compared to what my skinny friends weighed. But that's neither here nor there because for the most part I've settled into where I am comfortable and know what I can get away with and what I can't. I do strive to be healthy-ish. And, I am way more active than I used to be. I even just completed my first half-marathon. Take that S- in PE!
All this rambling about weight, nutrition, and diet leads me to the most rich, luscious brownie recipe you can hope for. Oh, the irony! But seriously, it's a recipe totally worth splurging on. Averie Cooks published this gem on the blogosphere last summer, but I didn't see them until recently. (Travesty, I know!) Making a knock off of Little Debbie's famous brownies sounded awesome to me. Most FFK's know Little Debbie was where it was at. (And I do still love the store bought treats on occasion.) Though this version blows away the cellophaned snack you would have found in your lunchbox. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Here's the scoop:
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons coffee or water ( I used leftover coffee from Nick's morning brewing)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (preferably Mexican vanilla)
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream (I used almond milk with a 1 tablespoon of butter added-- but go with the real stuff)
1 cup mini M&Ms
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan (or 9x13 if you want thinner brownies) with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.
3. Add the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, coffee, vanilla to butter; whisk to combine.
4. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until incorporated, free from lumps, and smooth.
5. Add the flour and stir until it's just incorporated; be careful not to overmix.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth top with spatula.
7. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until top has just set. A toothpick inserted to the center should come out clean. I baked mine for 25 minutes.
Allow brownies to cool completely in pan. While brownies cool, make the ganache
1. Add chocolate chips to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften chips. They won't be melted, this is okay. Don't stir; set bowl aside.
2. Heat milk or cream in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl OR in small sauce pan on stove. Heat just until it begins to bubble/just beginning to boiling, about 1 minute. (I prefer the stove method.)
3. Pour milk or cream over chocolate chips and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. (I think I waited about 8 minutes.)
4. Whisk mixture until silky, smooth, and totally combined.
1. Pour ganache over mostly cooled brownies (try to wait 30-45 minutes.) Smooth ganache lightly with a spatula.
2. Evenly sprinkle with M&Ms. Cover pan with a sheet of foil, and put in refrigerator until ganache sets up, at least 2 hours.
Now it'll be difficult, but it's imperative that you let the ganache set up completely. No cheating!! After at least two hours, break these bad boys outta the fridge. Slice and serve to your heart's content.
A word of warning: these guys are rich. I don't often use this word because I have a pretty spectacular sweet tooth but these will get you. These aren't the $1.99 per box treats; these are uber high quality these brownies. Note: Brownies will keep for 1 week at room temperature or for 2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container...but trust me they likely won't have the opportunity to hang out that long.
Recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks.
The next time you're looking for a nostalgic and totally fun grown-up dessert, look no further than this recipe. It won't disappoint you. And if need be it'll be there to carry you through any trying time. Talk to you soon!