Chocolate – Salve for Your Soul
A Little Love Goes a Long Way
I confess. I have a long, deep-rooted love affair with chocolate. And I come by it honestly. My mother always planned her dinners around desserts. Brownies? Then it must be Marzetti Monday. And Mom always had at least one dessert per dinner. More, if it were a special occasion.
Chocolate is good for the soul, if not for the waistline. Or hips. It works! Just ask any woman. I don’t know why that is, but many of us would agree that it translates to a whole lot of love in all its forms. Liquid love in a chocolate martini. A pick-me-up inside a chocolate mousse. And a big hug via a piece or two (or three) of fudge.
We can talk about the chemical properties of chocolate and the pleasure centers of the brain it stimulates. But I’d rather just share a yummy recipe that goes all the way back to my earliest memories. Brownies. Ahhh. Just the name conjures up warm gooeyness and smells of freshly-baked, heartwarming goodness. Brownies go hand in hand with chocolate chip cookies. A staple of American youth.
It’s my firm belief that one is never be too old to enjoy them. Stores may sell brownie bites and caterers may offer up delectable variations, but old-fashioned, home-baked brownies served up warm from the oven just can’t be beat.
Ice cream on top? Or chocolate sauce drizzled all over? Perhaps as the base for an ice cream sundae? Take your pick. You can’t go wrong any which way. They’ll all bring a grin to your face and maybe even a happy memory or two. So in the spirit of sharing a bit of love, here’s a favorite, made-from-scratch recipe to hang your chocolate-lovin’ hat on:
Laura’s Favorite Homemade Brownies
½ cup Crisco (or other) vegetable shortening
2 oz. chocolate (buy the baking chocolate that’s precut into squares)
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small pot, melt Crisco and baking chocolate over hot water. (To do this, ideally you’ll have a pot that has an interior, removable pan that sits inside, secured above the bottom of the pot. Fill the bottom of the pot to a depth of ¼” inch or so of water. Bring the water to a boil, then set the interior pan with the baking chocolate and spry inside of it. You’ll see when the melting takes place. As an alternative, you can use a microwave instead of the pot/pan combo. Just nuke gently until the chocolate melts.) Remove to a spot to cool.
While it cools, mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Beat the eggs until they’re light and frothy, then add the sugar, the cooled chocolate mixture, and blend thoroughly. Add the flour, the vanilla, and the optional nuts and mix well. Pour the brownie batter into a greased 8x8 baking pan.
Bake for 25 minutes. Let it cool enough to cut and serve. And then enjoy! You’re welcome.
Oh, and don’t forget to lick the beaters, bowl, and mixing spoon. If that doesn’t bring back memories of being a kid, then I can only sympathize for your childhood deprivation. But remember, it’s never too late to start.