Phil Collins once sang, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” I found out on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday 2011 that you can’t hurry the baking process either. I had volunteered to provide my special recipe for homemade brownies for a Super Bowl Party my boyfriend Jeff would be attending. But I dropped the ball so to speak when I did not inventory my pantry first to make sure I had my usual brand. It was late in the day and my options were few, so I decided to improvise and use a different box mix I had recently purchased. It was made by a well-known San Francisco-based chocolate company. It had to be good!
My “special recipe” brownie baking procedure is as follows:
- Heat oven to 325 degrees
- Spray bottom and sides of a 9×9 pan with cooking spray
- Stir 18 oz pkg. of brownie mix, ¼ cup fresh brewed black coffee, 2/3 cup vegetable oil and 3 eggs in a large bowl until well-blended
- Spread in pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done
I opened the oven door after the brownies had been baking for 45 minutes and was greeted with the familiar blast of heat that I love so well. However, the brownies were still soupy and deflated. They seemed to not be getting done at all. This has never happened before! To my horror, I saw that the temperature was only at 315 degrees. I quickly increased it by 25 degrees. 20 minutes later, they were still not done. Toothpick Test No.1 was a failure. Small print on the back of the box stated that brownies may not appear done but firm after cooling.
Tentatively obeying this dubious disclaimer, I decided to let them chill on the pool table downstairs. I needed to speed up this process and it’s a lot cooler down there. I waited about 10 minutes before attempting to cut them. That was a mistake; they needed to go back in the oven. Time was running out, so I cranked up the oven another 25 degrees. After 15 minutes, they finally passed the toothpick test. But this was not without consequence. They now looked like separated hard chunks and soft mounds of a rocky road that’s seen recent seismic activity.
I knew I had to quickly camouflage their unsightly appearance and mold them back together while they were still warm. I used a rich dark chocolate frosting as my bonding and resurfacing agent. In an effort to disguise the gaps that had formed during the rapid heating and cooling process, I opened up a bag of M Ms; and chose the green and yellow ones to fill the holes and crevasses. I felt like a road crew worker patching potholes on a scale model of a city street. But instead of tar and asphalt compound, I was using a secret agent-Chocolate Bond.
Just then, I heard Jeff’s car making its way up the rocky terrain of my treacherous ice-encrusted driveway. I had finished just in time. The brownies had turned into what felt like a year-long project. Hopefully, the finished product would not embarrass him too much in front of his friends at the party. I had done what I could to adapt and overcome. I said very little about the fudged modifications the brownies had endured to become street legal. Don’t ask; don’t tell. I handed him the platter and sent him on his way with a coy little wink.
As it turned out, the brownies were a huge hit. Cleveland Bill, the host, said they were the best brownies he’s ever had! He wanted to know what my secret was. His guests couldn’t get enough of them! And most impressive of all, how could I have known who would win? They were, after all, decorated in the winning team’s colors. Green and gold are the colors of the Green Bay Packers, so they were true victory brownies– a victory for Green Bay over Pittsburgh and an unexpectedly savory victory for me.
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