I get to go home in four days!!! I’m beyond excited. Whenever I visit home, a part of me reverts back into little kid mode.
Having an opportunity to escape the responsibilities of adulthood–bills, grocery shops, transportation, etc–is a truly precious one. I love having my mom cook for me and my dad greet me in the morning with my old nicknames; as soon as I crumble into their hugs at the Charleston airport, I forget all the worries I have about ballet and injuries and life back in Pittsburgh.
When I went home last June, my mom excitedly planned and executed a plethora of meals and snacks for me, as she always does. I spent my nights sucking up the wafts of delicious scents from our kitchen, anticipating the announcement of the two holiest words of 6 to 7pm: “Dinner’s ready!”
As much as I allowed myself to be mothered, though, I couldn’t cut out my time with the oven entirely. So, when my mom informed me of plans to have dinner at my grandparents’ one Tuesday night, I immediately offered to provide dessert. I wanted to make something simple in effort and anything but in flavor. These brownies soon seemed the perfect choice: super quick, super easy, and a definite crowd pleaser. This was no 3-day, ornate, layered masterpiece (that’s saved for another post); it was a classic treat that both satisfied my family and scratched my baking itch.
What a miracle that from an unadorned tray of brown, comes a moist, chocolaty bite with an instant rush of childhood bliss.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the hectic nature of young adult life, just like it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the myriad of complex recipes waiting to be attempted. The pressures to build a career, to accomplish enough, to be self-sufficient, or to tackle the most technical dessert in the cookbook are relevant concerns. However, what’s equally important is remembering to find and cherish the brownie moments in life. Call your family. Visit home. Remind yourself what it’s like to be a kid for a day. Trade those baked Alaskas and soufflés your trusty 8×8.
[Mary] sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”…The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 2 oz. vegan dark chocolate (I use 5 pieces of the Trader Joe’s pound plus 72% bar)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup vegan sugar
- 1/4 cup pureed black beans (use nutribullet or food processor)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3 flax eggs (3 tablespoons flax mixed with 9 tablespoons of water in bowl left in fridge to thicken for 15 minutes)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons shortening
- 1 cup vegan powdered sugar
- 2 TBSP almond milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8×8 pan and line with parchment or nonstick foil.
- Combine shortening and chocolate in glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Microwave using 20 second bursts, stirring thoroughly between, until melted. Set aside.
- In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Add beans, flax eggs, vanilla extract, and shortening mix into dry ingredients. Stir just until completely combined.
- Spoon batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Bake at 350°F for about 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (The cook time will vary by oven, so I suggest you begin checking around the 30 minute mark). Prepare frosting while brownies bake.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan.
- Spread with peanut butter frosting.
- In a medium mixing bowl or in bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat shortening and peanut butter on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy.
- Add in powdered sugar a little at a time to avoid a sugar explosion, beating until incorporated.
- Add milk and beat on high until smooth.