Sometimes there’s more to a brownie than meets the eye.
A really good brownie could become your identity, your touchstone, your raison d’être.
A dark chocolate fountain of creativity, the right brownie is your heart of hearts and knows where you live.
Just ask Judyth Hill.
by Judyth Hill
I got famous for them, brownies,
adding nuts and all my attention,
9 years of my life, to the batter.
The recipe reads:
Stir with all your desire to be a poet.
Break 27 thoughts about God, children,
and postgraduate degrees.
Beat till thick with ambition.
Fold in longing and chocolate, hot as the tar roof
on 101st & West End.
Mix just till you remember all the words to Mac the Knife,
Add nuts and the words Jonathan wrote on the boxing gloves
I got for Christmas:
Words from Catallus, Odi et Amo:
I hate and I love.
You ask how that can be.
I know not, but I feel the agony.
He gave me sporting equipment a lot,
though I don’t do sports.
He always remembered to add the words.
I do words.
I do brownies.
I do variations on brownies, cantatas of brownies
sonatas of brownies, quintets of fudge.
And short compositions featuring chocolate
as if it were a bassoon.
Perhaps I am the Picasso of brownies.
My blue period, the year I cried over every batch.
The way the one eyed woman can eat a brownie
and still be in my painting — a trick I discovered
and it became a genre.
Perhaps I am the Seurat of brownies,
dots of primary flavor
deep, sweet, salt,
an illusion adding up to the spectrum of dessert.
I am the Einstein of brownies,
discovering how the more chocolate you eat,
the later it gets.
Discovering how Poem x the Speed of Light² = Brownies.
Discovering that mass, brownies, and time are infinite.
Discovering that the energy of the universe
will go into each pan,
and it’s still brownies.
Maybe I’m the Martin Buber of brownies.
Climbing 10 chocolate rungs to grace.
Or the Albert Schweitzer of brownies,
giving brownies to everyone,
whether they need them or not.
What if I’m the Donald Trump of brownies,
building a cocoa empire.
Blocks of fudge, whole towers of semisweet,
bittersweet and Swiss, bullions of brownies,
chips of profit and loss. Or Lenny Bruce.
Hilarious and obscenely chocolate.
Chocolate so good it’s dirty,
and we can’t talk about it here.
Perhaps I am the Chanel of brownies,
designing a brownie for every outfit,
accessorizing brownies with shoes and bags,
a suit, a rich dark color that goes with everything.
~ from Written with a Spoon: A Poet’s Cookbook, edited by Nancy Fay & Judith Rafaela (Sherman Asher Publishing, 2002). Posted by permission of the author.
Judyth says, “At the time I wrote ‘Brownies’, I owned and ran the famous Chocolate Maven Bakery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am the original Maven! The bakery has gone on to be a huge success, and I sold her to pursue my career as a Poet/Author.”
Well, no wonder! Love the conversational, stream-of-conscious style of Judyth’s poem. She might be ultimate proof that chocolate really does inspire good work, something I’ve been scientifically “researching” for the last 7 years on this blog. 🙂
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LET’S WRAP OUR LIPS AROUND THEM BROWNIES
Hungry yet? Judyth graciously sent over her brownie recipe so I could share it today. The Alphabet Soup furry kitchen helpers and I had fun making it and thoroughly enjoyed every dense fudgy bite. Of course you know we really made the brownies for you, since you’re so good at appreciating all the sacrifices we make on your behalf :).
How could something so easy to make taste so good? Positively sinful! But then, I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like (though I prefer mine without nuts). People often talk about death by chocolate. Truly, it’s the only way to go. Thanks, Judyth!
BASIC, ENTIRELY PERFECT BROWNIES
This is the recipe for the moist, fudgy (not cakey – puleeeeeze!) brownies we chocolate fiends are always hoping to make ! This is an ultra-easy, super-speedy recipe. You can make a batch in the time it takes to listen to your current favorite CD, feed the birds, do a chore while they’re baking, and feel deeply Good about yourself.
These are great to bake with children, and for children…in which case, probably leave out the nuts. That’ll make them the hit of the bake sale, especially if you throw in a bag of those Heath bar bits, or peanut brickle, or some other over-the-top addendum.
AND! These are so rich and luscious, you can substitute the flour with brown rice, oatmeal or coconut flour, and Voila! Scrumptious Gluten-Free brownies!
Also, these freeze amazingly well. And it’s fun to pour the batter for the second pan into a couple of those small foil baking pans (the little square 8-inch by 8-inch ones) and give them as gifts. Spreading the joy…that’s the brownie story.
**Makes 2 (9-inch by 13-inch) pans, or 3 thick 8×8 square pans
- 8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (I like Hershey’s or Baker’s)
- 1 cup semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate bits (I like Ghirardelli)
- 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter
- 3-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour
- 2-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate bits
Oil the pan generously, or spray with Baker’s Joy. Pre-heat the oven to 350 º F.
Set up a double boiler by filling a wide pot halfway with water, and place over medium-high heat. When the water reaches a very gentle simmer, decrease the heat to low. Combine the baking chocolate, the chocolate bits, and the butter in a heatproof bowl and set over the pot of barely simmering water. Heat without stirring, just until melted, taking care not to let the chocolate get too hot, or (heaven forbid) scorch. Remove from the heat.
OR, if you prefer, combine the chocolates and butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 2 minutes on medium power, until melted, but not hot.
While the chocolates are melting, place the sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the eggs, salt,a dn vanilla. Pour the warm chocolate into the sugar, and, using a large wooden spoon or large rubber spatula, stir together just until mixed. Add the egg mixture in one pour, and again, stir just until blended together.
Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, just until combined. Stir in the nuts and chocolate bits. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pans, dividing the batter evenly, and lightly smooth and spread the batter in the pans.
Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly risen in the center and done, but not dry. Test with a toothpick. The pick should come out very wet and gooey. Remove from the oven and cool thoroughly before cutting.
Variations: You can add 2 tablespoons orange liqueur and 1 tablespoon orange extract and make orange flavored brownies.
Or try a teaspoon of mint extract, if you are a chocolate mint fan. Or 2 cups of grated coconut, or, or, or . . . you get the idea!
Jama’s Note: I halved the recipe and baked it for 23 minutes, though next time I will take the pan out after 20 minutes to get a gooey-er center. 🙂
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Brownie Goddess Judyth Hill is a poet, performer, provocateur, author, writing teacher, food/arts/travel writer, and secret pastry chef who lives on a rural farm just outside San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The recipient of grants from the Witter Bynner Poetry Foundation, the McCune Foundation, and New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, she’s published nine books of poetry (Baker’s Baedeker, The Goddess Cafe, Hardwired For Love, Presence of Angels, Men Need Space, and Black Hollyhock, First Light, Dazzling Wobble and Tzimtzum), and her poems have also been included in numerous anthologies.
Judyth conducts workshops at writing conferences and museums, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the International Museum of Folk Art in Santa Fe. She is the annual Poet-in-Residence at various schools in the United States, and offers writing classes online, at www.judythhill.com. She teaches on-going poetry and writing classes in San Miguel.
In conjunction with Chef Kris Rudolph, as Eat~Write~Travel, she leads WildWriting culinary travel adventures, www.eat-write-travel.com. Judyth recently recorded her first CD, Wage Peace: New & Selected Poems, and she authored the cookbook for the celebrated Santa Fe, NM restaurant Geronimo, published by Ten Speed Press in Berkeley, CA. Though she no longer owns Santa Fe’s premier gourmet bakery, The Chocolate Maven, where she was as well known for her brownies as her poems, this “tigress with a pen” still enjoys baking for her friends and continues to be a force for good in the world.
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The brilliant and talented Buffy Silverman is hosting today’s Roundup at Buffy’s Blog. Take her a brownie or two, then check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Have brownie, will travel. 🙂
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.