Dark Chocolate Brownies
In Europe, you see a lot of dogs running or going about their day independently from their owners. Whether they’re a yappy little Jack Russell Terrier and Border Terrier running up and down the hills of Cinque Terre and greeting everyone who visits, a watchful Rhodesian Ridgeback keeping post at his owner’s frame shop in Florence, or a curious Beagle showing visitors the way into town in the Alps. It should come as no surprise that I am a huge dog person and I am definitely NOT one of those people who are able to let my dog run wild and free.
My family sometimes jokes that Tony and I are like that couple from Best in Show, you know, with the Weimaraner and Busy Bee? Overbearing, protective, and generally just crazy about their dog? At first, I laughed with them and didn’t take it too personally, but then at some point I realized that in the past year every time I’ve gone shopping Louie has accompanied me in the dressing room and has joined me at the nail or hair salon because I can’t bear to be away from him for over an hour… Maybe they had a point. Maybe I needed to slacken the leash a little, let Louie be a real dog versus my furry best friend/child?
We take Louie to CrossFit with us every morning, mostly so I don’t have to run the two miles home by myself, but also because it gives him the opportunity to be a dog and explore on his own. The gym is in an enclosed area with a large parking lot and a big field so I’m never too concerned about his whereabouts, but I always try to keep a watchful eye like any responsible parent!
On this particular morning, there were a few men working on the facilities outside and Louie was showing off as usual so I wasn’t acutely aware of his location at all times. I was recuperating from a brutal workout when I realized I hadn’t seen Louie run past for a while so I peeled myself up off the ground and proceeded to ask the men outside if they had seen Louie. They pointed to the other end of the building so I casually jogged over, called his name, but I didn’t see him. I ran back to the gym and ran on to the field to see if maybe I missed him, but nothing. Then a friend mentioned she saw him running in the parking lot and that’s when I began to panic.
While it is an enclosed area, there is a gate large enough for cars to get in and out and just adjacent to the main road to access the gym is a large highway. At this point, I was sprinting down the road and frantically yelling his name like a distraught parent looking for their child who got lost in the grocery store. It doesn’t help that “lui” also means “he” in Italian. I asked a random passerby if he had seen a dog, “Hai visto un cane?” but he hadn’t seen anything. And then off in the distance I saw two gentlemen with dogs, but I knew by the dogs’ coloring neither of them were Louie, but if I know my dog, I knew he could have easily gotten distracted and wanted to play with the other dogs… He’s so social.
I ran across the field toward the men to ask if they’d seen a dog and before I could finish my sentence, I heard Louie’s little jingle as he jauntily strutted towards me upon realizing the look of terror of my face. He knew he was in trouble and slowly walked over towards me, but I couldn’t even yell at him for running away because in that moment I was just so thankful he hadn’t been hit by a car or taken home by a kind stranger. He’s very convincing.
Like most of my stories, this story might not have the plot line to be the next “blockbuster” movie, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that I am not a carefree person. I am destined to be that overbearing mother that monitors her children’s whereabouts on applications that I’ve secretly installed on their phones (maybe I’ll just avoid the anxiety and strap on a child-leash and call it a day), checks their Halloween candy for razor blades and poison, and forces them to stay at the table until they eat their entire dinner– basically the mom who everyone despises. But you know what, I’m doing it because I love you. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not pregnant, I’m just on a rant.
While this brownie recipe has absolutely NOTHING to do with this novella (except for the fact that I was introduced to it in the Alps where I met the curious Beagle and Louie also slept in bed with us nightly, despite house rules that he remained out of the bedroom), it is life changing. So you might have to measure out a few more ingredients and wash two more bowls than you normally would with a boxed mix brownie (which used to reign, in my opinion), but it is completely worth it!
I tried these brownies after one particularly dreadful day on the slopes (I was crying after the first run because it was so icy and rocky) and they were amazing… and I obviously ate my feelings and devoured two within ten minutes. The brownies were rich in chocolate flavor, dense, fudgey, and had a shiny, crackly little top. Fortunately, our host was more than willing to share his recipe with me so I could recreate it at home and now I get to share it with you!
Dark Chocolate Brownies recipe slightly adapted by The Bite-Sized Baker:
350 grams (~1½ cups) unsalted butter
300 grams (10.5 ounces) dark chocolate
400 grams (~1¾ cups) granulated sugar
50 grams (~¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder
150 grams (~1¼ cups) all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
- To make the brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×13” pan with parchment paper.
- In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. While the mixture is still very warm, add sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the eggs and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate-butter mixture on low speed until the batter looks thick, shiny, and well incorporated.
- Spread the batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and cut into squares.