As I gathered recipes and thoughts for this little piece, I realized yet another example of how the apple doesn’t fall far… My mom used to unsuccessfully hide Yodels and Ring-Dings in the dining room sideboard where she stored table linens—and to this day, I haven’t met a piece of chocolate I don’t like. Note: I didn’t say love. I LOVE darker chocolate varieties the most, ideally, when stamped organic and fair-trade. Toss in some dried cherries and you can likely twist my arm for anything (within reason). What I love aside from the taste is that all it takes to quell cravings is a few small bites.
Milk chocolate holds memories that make us smile… It’s the chocolate we remember luring us in from childhood, molded as cute Easter bunnies and caramel-filled eggs or wrapped in golden foil as Hanukkah gelt (coins)… And the insane amount of cavity-producers we collect(ed) on Halloween in mini versions of mass-marketed bars, each holding space for creamy, sweet milk chocolate. These days, I favor chocolate that’s at least 55% cacao and is minimally processed (no ingredients I can’t pronounce and nothing artificial). And, if it’s not too much to ask, studded with roasted almonds and finished with flaky sea salt.
Last but not least, the white chocolate conundrum… Is it really chocolate? While I appreciate its popularity, I’ve never been nuts about it. But I will take a nibble on occasion, enthusiastic that I’ll stumble upon a version of this mysterious confection to be smitten with someday. There are two camps here… Some chocolatiers argue it’s not actually chocolate if it doesn’t contain cocoa or cacao. Others argue that it is a valid member of the chocolate family. What do you think?
Our chocolate-laced piece in THE EDIT shares a recipe for healthy truffles—they are truly nutrient-packed. Just dates, walnuts and raw cacao. Not low in sugar, though… Dates have plenty of natural fructose. If you have to watch your sugar intake, you know your limits. Perhaps just 1 or 2. What’s great is that the fructose in dates metabolizes more slowly than refined sugar (which has zero nutrients), and is more efficiently utilized as energy. Dates offer healthy fiber, too. The recipe is fast, easy and delicious. You’ll find the RAW CACAO TRUFFLES RECIPE & HEALTH BENEFITS HERE and in Alembika styles from THE CHOCOLATE SHOPPE named “Cacao” or Truffle.”
Here in THE WELL, you may be wondering why I’m sharing brownies made with a tub of butter, refined sugar and other classic ingredients, instead of the more health-conscious recipe in The Edit. The reason? I come back to the trite but true, “everything in moderation.” After all, being obsessive about what you eat, without allowing for the occasional indulgence, can be as unhealthy as not being mindful at all (and no fun). Plus, chocolate kicks our endorphins into gear, releasing “feel-good” hormones. What’s not to love about that?! Tasty treats are good for the soul. And, what’s good for the soul, is good for our wellbeing.
Grandma Pearl’s brownies had a cult following in 1973 at Frost Valley sleep-away camp. When care packages arrived for me at the camp’s woodsy post office, campers in the know tagged closely behind me, giddy with delight.
The recipe (up top, with stains) was a little rough… Not sure if Gram wanted to keep her iconic brownies a secret or if dictating the recipe from memory was a fail, but I had to replicate these super-moist, mini chocolate chip-studded creations that were so rich, she cut them into tiny squares before dusting with powdered sugar. After experimenting, the following redux made with cocoa, not baking chocolate, comes very close!
GRANDMA PEARL’S BROWNIES, 2.0
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1-1/8 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- Powdered sugar to finish
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8″ square pan and line with parchment. Add hot melted butter and sugar to a bowl and whisk well. Add eggs and vanilla; beat another minute. Sift flour, cocoa and salt into bowl; gently fold until just combined (don’t over-mix). Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan, smooth out top and bake 20-25 minutes until “set” to the touch. Cool completely before cutting into squares (or you will make a mess of your chocolate gems). Enjoy!