I admit it, I ripped this post title off of the U2 song. I was listening to my iTunes as I started writing this, and I thought it'd be the perfect title. Valentine's Day is Saturday, and it seems to either evoke disdain or anticipation. I get the sense that it's a little more fashionable to just not care about it. It's a commercial enterprise they say, a way for jewelry stores and restaurants to prey on couples by creating high expectations that need to be fulfilled (usually, it's the women with the high expectations, I would expect--and I can say this, being one myself).
In spite of what people say (and I do agree that Valentine's Day is commercial) I don't mind the concept really--to give a little more love to a special someone, because we probably don't always do it the other 364 days of the year. I think it's rather sweet. And I've always found that it's the little things that count, like washing the dishes left on the kitchen counter or making someone a cup of tea. Maybe Valentine's Day also doesn't have to be about a romantic interest, and maybe it could include anyone we loved--a dear friend, a supportive brother,...an estranged relative? We'd probably do well to give a little more love all around.
I was flipping through Marcy Goldman's A Passion For Baking this past Sunday, looking for something to make for an informal dinner gathering at a friend's house. We were having homemade pizza(!), and what better dessert to go with pizza than some rich, chewy and chocolatey brownies? Marcy Goldman includes a recipe for a fudge brownie mix that can be packaged in a jar as gifts, and I thought that would be so cute (and inexpensive!) to give to friends! Seldom have I met a person who did not at least like chocolate. And isn't chocolate anything the universal gift that says "I love you"?
I thought it would be a good idea to test the "brownie mix in a jar" recipe before I started giving them out, so I made them for the pizza dinner. I sprinkled chocolate chips on top after spreading the batter into the pan, and lightly pressed them down with a spatula. I cut the brownies before they cooled completely, so it was a little sloppy with the melted chocolate chips, but it certainly didn't affect the taste! I had another brownie the day after, and they were even better. I would be more than happy if someone gave me this "brownie mix in a jar"! And after baking them up, I would make sure the person who gave it to me got a corner piece, because that's my favorite.
Adapted from Marcy Goldman's A Passion For Baking
Makes about 24 brownies
Dry ingredients (these can go into into a jar or other air-tight container as a gift*):
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
2-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 stick of butter (or 3/4 cup), melted
4 large eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 13"x9" pan.
In a mixing bowl, mix the melted butter with all the dry ingredients, then add eggs and mix until combined. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake on the middle rack for approximately 25 minutes, then allow the pan to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
*The nuts can be added to the jar, if you're giving it as a gift. Keeping the ingredients in layers makes for a prettier presentation, too. Print out instructions on a card and attach the card to the jar with a ribbon for the perfect gift.