Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brownies for Jan

On the occasion of her birthday.....

where girlie drinks were sipped as the sun slipped into Spanish Banks....

As you know, the running posse does a bunch of stuff together. We run together. We walk together. We sweat together. We travel together (a new addition to our list!). We heave our way through 5K runs, 10K runs, and the odd half marathon. We cheer for each other. We whine at each other. We laugh at each other. And we celebrate our birthdays together.

When Tamara and Andrew got hitched, they invited friends and family to share stories and thoughts during the ceremony. Tamara and Andrew kept glancing towards the Canadians in the audience (as we're pretty verbose by nature). And I honestly would have piped up and said something, except that I knew I would end up a heaving, snotty, sobbing mess should I open my mouth. But here's what I would have said (without the sobs and the snot):

We are an unlikely group of friends who probably wouldn't have had a chance to meet in any other context. But being a slow runner has its perks, and this group of women is the biggest perk I can imagine. Who knew that the road to better health would lead us here, to witness our Tamara tie the knot with Andrew. I am so grateful for everything this posse represents. Sunday morning exercise is great, but the fact that we all make each others worlds a little bigger is beyond brilliant. I am grateful for the journey that brought us from the trails in Stanley Park, to the hills of Pennsylvania, where we can show you how much you mean to us....

And here we sit on the eve of Jan's birthday. (She's the one in the pink.)

We gathered for dinner at The Teahouse Restaurant in Stanley Park where we dined on scallops and girlie cocktails. Bless these scallops. BLESS them.

For Jan's birthday, I wanted to include something special with the book I purchased for her (The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, a book I'm currently reading and LOVING - 'tis the season for great Canadian literature folks!!) So I whipped up some of Cassandra's Most Excellent Granola and bottled a wee jar for her. And then, I turned my hand to the art of chocolate. Our Jan is not a baker (though she does own a beautiful pink Kitchen Aid stand mixer, pink being her favourite colour....) I searched high and low for a good lookin' brownie recipe... something that was substantial. And re-dork-ulously chocolatey...

Ina Garten had the solution. Her Outrageous Chocolate Brownie recipe is exactly that... (outrageous!!!) In the 13 X 9 X 2 pan, there is a whole POUND o' chocolate. These are not for the faint of heart, gentle reader. These are for serious chocolate lovers. (Ina, I did take liberties with your recipe... Hope that's okay.)

Outrageous Chocolate Brownies

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
8 oz + 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp + 1.5 tsp instant coffee (I know - but trust me - you WANT this in there)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (yup that's a whole tablespoon!)
1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp flour, divided (1/2 cup for batter and 2 Tbsp for chips and nuts)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups diced pecans

Preheat oven to 350
Grease and lightly flour a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan

Melt together the butter, 8 oz chocolate chips and 3 oz unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler. Cool slightly (I'm gonna say - cool until you can drizzle a bit on your finger without inducing third degree burns).

Stir together eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the pecans and 6 oz. chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until tester just comes out clean*. Halfway through baking, rap the pan against oven shelf to allow air to escape.

Don't be over cookin' these babies! (though I think I did... ) Cool thoroughly, refrigerate and cut into squares.

*My note: I was waiting for the toothpick to come out clean and consequently, I think these were ever-so-slightly over baked. I'd suggest judging NOT just by the toothpick, but by the touch. You want them firm in the centre but not rigid....

These are mighty tasty, indeed.

Happy Birthday Jan.

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