I knew the day was coming. I've been waking up early lately, feeling sad. So many elements in our life are in flux at the moment. But one certainty that has been steadily approaching is number one son's last day at the crêche. It's funny: I'm sad on his behalf as much as our own. He won't ever remember how wonderful the creche was. Years from now, if I bring him back and tell him "This is Nathalie. Whenever she came back from her holidays, you ran around her in circles, clapping, because you were so happy to see her again" he will blink and stare at me blankly. In a year's time, he won't know that the boy he's hugging in this photo is named Eli. All part of growing up, but this fond mother is pathetically nostalgic about these things.
Although I could never repay the many kindnesses we have received from the wonderful women have helped look after the boy for the last 18 months, I wanted to give them a token gift of thanks. And so I decided to give the gift of chocolate.
Have you bought David Lebovitz's new book, The Perfect Scoop? No? Me either, but I'm going to get it soon. Because the two books I already own by David have yielded absolutely amazing recipes, the kind of recipes that become old friends you turn to in times of sorrow. The recipes you pass along to your friends with delight. You may tweak them here and there according to the whim of the moment, but you know that the base is perfect. At Christmas, I used his gingersnaps recipe (from Room for Dessert) to make cookies for the women at the creche...and had to translate the recipe at their request after they tasted them. And this time, I turned to The Great Book of Chocolate for a brownie recipe: Kate and Dave's Brownies, which is based on Katherine Hepburn's recipe for brownies. Such is the beauty of passing along recipes. Each person in the chain brings a new element to the base. And what do I bring to them, to make them Kate and Dave and Meg's Brownies? Chocolate raspberry jam.
Dave and Kate's Remarkable Brownies As Tweaked By Meg
115 grams unsalted butter, less a few tablespoons if you are using French butter
115 grams unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar (less a few tablespoons if you are using French baking chocolate, which I find tends to be a bit sweeter than US unsweetened chocolate)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbs flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup almond slivers
100 grams fine dark chocolate, chopped
4-6 Tbs chocolate raspberry jam
Butter and flour a 20 cm square pan and preheat the oven to 325F/160C. Melt the chocolate and butter over a low heat. Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar and then the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, salt, almond slivers and chopped chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan and back for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for five minutes on a wire rack and then spread the jam evenly over the top. Allow to cool another 15 minutes at least before cutting in squares and devouring.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you where to find chocolate raspberry jam. We received our home-made jar from my cousins Barb and Charlie (I believe) a few years ago and it has been lurking in the back of the fridge, waiting for the day when I would find the perfect partner. And now I have.
You could substitute regular raspberry jam if you don't have generous, talented cousins like mine. If so, I might be inclined to strew a handfull of mini-chocolate chips over the top of the brownies too for good measure.