It is a little known fact, that besides discovering the “New World” Christopher Columbus discovered the cocoa bean and brought it back in 1502 to King Ferdinand in Spain. Ok so maybe that’s a little bit too far back for most of my readers. How about the little known fact that the first chocolate drink was served in the colonies when it was brought over from a factory in England in 1765. I of course had nothing to do with either event, except that I am glad that chocolate arrived in America at some point so that I could savor the sweet treat whenever I need to. Chocolate is something that I just cannot or will not do without in my life. Men may come and go, fashions will certainly come and go, but chocolate will always be in my home and on my lips day after day, year after year. I firmly believe that we Americans should make chocolate a food group and require at least 3 to 4 daily servings of it. You think I jest? You have clearly not been to my home. As I type the oven timer is beeping telling me that my homemade chocolate brownies are done. So, you will have to pardon me as I go take them out…… I am back, if you are a good reader and continue reading this article until the end, I just may include my homemade brownie recipe for you. Enjoy the chocolate facts and musings and perhaps soon you will be enjoying my famous brownies in your home as well.
The natural fat of the cocoa bean, called the cocoa butter is actually bitter and you would wrinkle your nose up at the taste of it. Chocolate that we eat is actually a mix of chocolate liquor plus butter, sugar and vanilla flavoring. This all gets processed to produce dark, flavorful chocolate. There are different chocolate liquor quantities that produce either the sweet, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate choices. Milk is added to this mixture to make the chocolate known as Milk Chocolate. The recipe may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as some may use real vanilla, some may use imitation vanilla, some milk solids, some the liquid milk. Some chocoholics have refined palettes and will tell you that a certain chocolate brand is better than others; the slight variance in the recipe may be the reason. A true chocoholic like myself will tell you that there is a difference in texture, smoothness, and taste between the different candy manufacturers products.
As a chocoholic I can tell you that there is no truth in sweets such as chocolates giving you cavities. This myth has been used for centuries to scare little kids into not eating too many sweets, or to make them brush their teeth. Though the latter is wise, as the true cause of cavities is not eating chocolates, but in not having good dental habits. So, eat chocolate with no fear of the dreaded cavity, unless of course you decide to not brush or floss your teeth at all. I used to be concerned over another chocolate myth, the one concerning caffeine in chocolate until I ran across some information online somewhere, that stated that an almost full cup of coffee had about 40 mg of caffeine and a 1 oz bar of chocolate has about 6 mg of caffeine. So to get the same buzz from chocolate as I do from drinking 3 cups of coffee, I would have to eat about 20 of the 1 oz candy bars and even that would be a huge feat for this chocolate lover to do. I think I would throw up before I started to feel the buzz of caffeine. So go ahead have that second or third bar of chocolate and do not give a second thought to the caffeine, unless of course your doctor advised you not to, then I guess you will just have to show your doctor this article and hope he was saying no because of the caffeine and not the calories. Another myth is that you cannot eat chocolates when dieting. The truth is that depriving yourself of such a delicious treat as chocolate will make you hate your diet so much that you will go off of it and not lose the desired weight. So eat chocolate in moderation, say one bar a day, and you should be fine. Did you know that a chocolate bar was actually healthy for you to eat? That is right a chocolate bar is a low-cholesterol food item. A 1.65 oz chocolate bar contains only 12 mg as compared to a 1 oz piece of cheese that contains 30 mg of cholesterol.
Given all the above facts I loudly confess that I am and will forever more be a certifiable chocoholic. I am after all a person who cannot, and will not live without chocolate. There are many situations that occur in my life in which I know the only thing I can sensibly do, after experiencing one of these situations, is to go unwrap a bar of Milk Chocolate. These situations are not limited to the following occurrences: My child yet again losing her favorite pair of tennis shoes, the puppy peeing in my living room for the 100th time, my mother telling me yet again that I am not doing something right, my husband trying to tell me that this time he has found the perfect job for him, or my van has decided to die for the 4th time this year. All perfectly good reasons to keep a pantry full of case upon case of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, or Snickers, or Almond Joys, or Take Fives or well, you get the picture. You see, chocolate is a great stress reducer and it makes me smile. A pleasant side effect is that it makes my taste buds sing.
There are more ways to enjoy chocolate than unwrapping your favorite chocolate bar. There is baking with chocolate. There is nothing quite like the smell of brownies baking in your oven, or working with a pan of gooey chocolate and coconut flakes when making top of stove cookiesÃ¢Â?Â¦.YUMMY. Baking soothes the soul and fills the tummy. The skill of baking can be passed on from generation to generation and gives lots of chances for family stories while gathered around holiday tables. My daughters love to bake and are rapidly getting as good at it as I am. Someday they will be old enough to use the oven without my help and then, I may just be surprised by what comes out of our kitchen. Today, what is coming out of our kitchen is this amazing chocolate aroma. I did promise to share the recipe with you, so get ready to print out this article. You will want to remind yourself about all the reasons it is ok to confess that you too are a chocoholic.
I have been baking this particular brownie recipe for years and the magazine page is worn and wrinkled and splattered with who know what LOL, but it is still my most cherished recipe in my file. It sits right up front, not in the file folder, so that I, or one of my daughters can grab it quickly whenever the chocolate urge hits one of us. I have modified the original recipe to fit my huge appetite for chocolate. The date on the bottom right of the page is 1991, so that gives you an idea of just how long I have been baking it and nothing has ever come close to replacing it as my favorite brownie recipe. Well, enough chatter, here it is.
Laura’s Famous Brownie Recipe (for lack of a more creative title)
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F. Grease a brownie pan (I use glass/pyrex)
Small bowl for the dry ingredients and a medium size bowl for the liquid (I use a microsafe bowl)
Electric Mixer and beaters.
2 eggs, 1 cup of granulated sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or margarine 1/2 cup of flour,1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chocolate shavings (optional if not a chocoholic), 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (optional if not a nut lover), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I use real not imitation), bottle of Hershey’s Syrup, and your favorite topping (cool whip, fudge, butterscotch).
In the small bowl add all the dry ingredients together and stir til mixed. (do not add chips or nuts yet)
In the microwave medium bowl, put the butter/margarine out to soften slightly or if you like, put it into the microwave on muffin/roll setting 1 timeÃ¢Â?Â¦just to warm slightly.
To the softened butter add the sugar and beat til creamy.
Add the vanilla and slightly beaten eggs to the butter mixture, then add my now not so secret ingredient of Hershey’s Syrup (in the bottle) the amount is not a measured amount. I just squirt it into the bowlÃ¢Â?Â¦you may try saying I really LOVE chocolate as you squeeze and that should be enough.
Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon til dry ingredients are wet.
Then beat with the electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
The batter should be slightly thick unless you over did it on the syrup and that will be ok as I have done that more than just a few times and the brownies turn out great, just a little more moist. You really can not do anything much wrong with this recipe.
Stir in nuts and chips if you are using them.
Spread batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the 350 F degree oven for 35 minutes. Do not bake any longer than 35 minutes or you will have dry brownies.
Once you bake and cool, you can top individual serving sizes with any of your favorite toppings. Now comes the time to eat and enjoy these brownies, you will be a chocoholic if you were not one before. These brownies are full of chocolaty goodness. So now it is time to confess my true nature. I am on a mission to make chocoholics out of everyone. (insert evil laugh). Gottcha
I would love to hear from other chocoholics and perhaps share recipes. Chocolate will one day be a food group and chocolate syrup will come out of water fountains instead of water. The chocolate bar will replace the dollar bill for currency and all employers will be forced to pay us with chocolate bars. This will someday be a sweet world to live in.