Posting this in the wake of Valentine's Day, after you've either had the fortune to be treated to an indulgent dinner and dessert, received a basket of goodies from an anonymous sender (do people still do this?), or, if your life is more like mine, received a package of chocolates from your mother, or you've just gone and loaded up on all the sale candy, could possibly be seen as a little twisted. If I were a better person, I would probably be sharing recipes for salads and juices that begin with "detox" with promises of brighter skin, energy, and healthy colons. (I probably shouldn't talk about colons.)
If I were a better person. Who hadn't spent Valentine's Day sitting on a bed, with a giant bar of chocolate, watching a film about female revenge with a fellow single friend. In our defence, however, we did not yell or throw anything at the screen or cry about boys or braid each other's hair.
I don't usually spend Valentine's Day in such a stereotypical single-woman way. Generally I only eat more chocolate than usual that day, as that's the week I receive an excessive amount of chocolate from my mother. One year she sent me flowers and a teddy bear, and I think there may have been a musical card involved but can't be sure because I've probably repressed that much of it, but I told her she could never do that again because it was too weird. Although, this year, I had no chocolates in the mail, not because my mother has come to the sudden realization that Valentine's Day is traditionally a couple-oriented holiday or she's become worried about my health (not that she doesn't worry - she worries about me on principle), she's just touring through India and Nepal with my dad. Retired teachers. I want to be one.
Then there are these brownies. Which aren't really related to Valentine's Day or my mother, but it seemed logical to talk about a holiday that is about chocolate as much as it's about giving people corny cards and flowers, if not more. And if Valentine's Day hadn't already passed, I would tell you to make these in anticipation of it, and any dates you wanted to make for that night, either to serve to a significant other, or just to yourself. But it has passed, though that doesn't mean the time for brownies has ended - oh no. The time for brownies is always and forever. You can even whip up a batch and keep the brownies cut up and stored in the freezer, for whenever a craving for something rich and sweet strikes.
And I did make them with whole wheat flour, so I'm not encouraging you to be totally bad. Right?
Adapted from The Best of Fine Cooking: Chocolate!
Carob, a cheaper alternative to cocoa, has a fruity, sweet flavour with a hint of spice that makes for a delicious twist on this classic cocoa brownie recipe. These brownies, despite their lack of melted chocolate, are dense and fudgy, perfect by themselves or - if you're feeling indulgent - a scoop of ice cream.
3/4 cup Butter
2/3 cup Carob Powder (or Cocoa)
1 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla (opt.)
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Optional Add-ins (chocolate chips/chunks, dried fruit, nuts, etc.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9-inch or 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper and grease parchment paper.
2. In a medium-sized pot, over medium heat, melt the butter, allowing it to get quite hot. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the carob powder. Let mixture cool completely.
3. Once cooled, whisk in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the eggs all at once and whisk until smooth. Fold in the flour just until incorporated. If using add-ins, fold in.
4. Spread batter into the prepared pan and baked until a toot-pick comes out with moist crumbs but not wet, 18 - 20 minutes, 10 - 12 if using a larger pan. Err on the side of underbaked - if overbaked, the brownies will toughen. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting. Store in an air-tight container for up to five days, or sealed in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can eat them straight from the freezer, or allow them to come to room temperature before eating.