When I started working at my job early last year, I immediately hit it off with my coworkers. Hilarious and kind, they make working in my cubicle way more entertaining. It’s funny how your office mates become like family, don’t you think? You work with them on all kinds of projects, see them 40 hours a week, and even travel with them. No wonder they seem like family; I see them more than my actual family! I feel so lucky to be close with the people in my unit because I know what it’s like to work in a very awkward and unfriendly environment. But when you work in a place like that, you learn to appreciate those lovable coworkers once you get them.
That being said, when my brother-from-another-mother Adam told me he was expecting a baby last August, I was so happy for him. I always joke with him that he is the brother I never wanted because we laugh, we bicker, and we torment each other like real siblings. Hearing about his impending arrival, I felt that in a way, this kid was somewhat related to me. I get to be the cool Auntie Amanda that spoils it with treats and takes it to see rated R movies. How awesome is that?
Watching a man prepare for the birth of his first child is one of the most interesting things to watch. The worry is etched all over his face and shows in the gray beard hairs. He suddenly knows all about the female anatomy and gets weekly newsletters about the benefits of breast feeding. More importantly, I’ve seen Adam grow in to this mature adult, a man who is on the brink of starting a family. It’s been an honor to see him really stand up to this challenge and I am so proud of him. The mothers get so much attention (and rightfully so) but I think the men deserve some credit too.
The baby’s due date came and went and suddenly we were all on baby-watch. He set up a text messaging hotline so everyone would know what was happening when it happened. After 9 hours of labor, the little girl was born and I can’t believe she is finally here. Dillon Violet. 10 fingers, 10 toes, two eyes, and one sweet smile. You can bet she is gonna have her daddy wrapped around her finger.
To prepare them for the tough adjustment lying ahead of them (new babes aren’t easy), I baked some rich and decadent brownies. I was going to stick to my favorite recipe but I wanted to give Karen Demasco’s book, The Craft of Baking, a test drive. While they aren’t as amazing as my beloved Alice Medrich recipe, they are a close second. Instead of using a 8 x 8 square pan, I used a 9 x 13 pan and ended up with thinner brownies. If you prefer thicker brownies, go with the 8 x 8. Don’t forget to put parchment paper on the bottom though; these brownies will stick to the pan without the paper.
How good were these brownies? They were so good, I even had one for breakfast… Or maybe two… At any rate, they are worth a try. If you can resist temptation, let them sit overnight. Trust me, these brownies get better after they have rested overnight. Fudgey and thin, they are the best way to celebrate new life. Plus, these new parents need all the sustenance they can get!
Ultimate Chocolate Brownies
Origin: Craft of Baking by Karen Demasco
Yield: 25 squares
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
● 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
● 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
● 3 large eggs, room temperature
● 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
● 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
● 1 cup all-purpose flour
● 1 tsp kosher salt
● 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment.
Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Put the butter and the unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over the simmering water. Stir the mixture frequently with rubber spatula until it is completely melted and combined. Remove the pan from the heat but keep the bowl over the water to keep the mixture warm.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the egg mixture and whisk together. With a rubber spatula, quickly fold in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and immediately pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly.
Bake for 10 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake until the brownies are shiny and cracked on top, 10 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely. Then cut into 1 1/2-inch squares.
Keep the brownies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.