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Excerpts from a mail-order catalog for gourmet brownies featuring “ambiance” stories.
In 1988, with enthusiastic encouragement from our children (particularly at bowl-licking time), I, and my sister Joan began making brownie lab experiments in our decidedly unscientific kitchens. After lots of trial and error, we finally arrived at what we felt was the ultimate, intensely fudgy brownie recipe. Next came the pushcart, which put on some serious mileage at countless Vermont craft shows, food festivals, and agricultural fairs, vending our freshly-baked, irresistably chocolate, gourmet brownies.
She was thinking about the night they met. He had been with another woman, actually, surrounded by a gang of joking, laughing students. They were in an Irish pub, the sort of place where they brewed dark, bitter, nutty-flavored ales that knocked your socks off. She was sitting at the next table with a good book. He turned and looked at her briefly, then, as if he had discovered something amazing, looked again, this time smiling shyly. The woman, who had until that moment been sitting silently, wearing a slightly bored expression, also gave her a look, although of quite a different kind. Some time later, the laughing students were gone. So was the good book. So was the bored woman. He came to her table with a frothy pint and asked her name. She already knew his.
She is someone who thrives on the act of celebration. She cannot go for more than a week without celebrating something. She never limits this to the traditional holidays – almost anything will do. A particularly beautiful sunset, the painting of the livingroom in the subtlest shade of robin’s-egg blue, the birthday of her favorite poet, the first spring daffodil in her backyard. And this passion for celebration always includes us, her friends. She invites us to join her for supper at a fabulous (but inexpensive) restaurant, or to the opening of a new exhibit (the history of silk). Sometimes we just sit on the patio under the stars, singing our favorite songs, champagne glasses in our hands.
The bee’s-knees in decadent creaminess. It is velvety batter poured, swirled, baked on top of a brownie of nearly indescribable richness – deeply chocolate, an affair of the heart. On top of it all, countless dark chocolate chips swim lazily in sweet rivulets of melted chocolate drizzle. Classic!
“Sensational” may be an understatement. This is the ultimate, an absolutely, positively, chocolate-with-a-capital-C, to-die-for, rich brownie. On top, handfuls, hunks of dark and white chocolate chunks to consume together in indulgent pleasure, or pluck off, one by one, to be reduced slowly to chocolate nothingness.
This is what to put in the center of a table covered with an antique Italian linen cloth, hand-embroidered in hues of pale green, olive, and seafoam, arranged randomly on a floral plate you bought for 50 cents at a yard sale. Super-rich, aromatically chocolate brownies bearing a delectible tumble of chopped after-dinner mints (your favorite kind) and dark chocolate chips. Guiltless, minty, fudgey ecstasy.
Hommage to wintery mountains, open fields blanketed deep in January snow, and the puritanical heritage of our Vermont forefathers (and mothers) – except that it is sinfully rich, dense, and chocolatey. A delicious metaphor for Mother Earth, topped with the sweetest white chocolate chips and boulderous hunks of white chocolate.