These Brownies Can Make the World a Better Place
I do not sit on Parent Councils, I do not organize skate swaps or the lost and found but I do bake for bake sales, and that’s how I help out my public school. But at my eldest son’s new school they don’t allow home baking, they don’t have bake sales. It is a big issue for me. How do I ingratiate myself to a new parent body if not through a dish of my delicious brownies or dried cherry and white chocolate chip cookies?
Bake sales are forbidden because of the fears of nut allergies. I do not have an allergic child so I do not live with that kind of anxiety, but I do have a step-father who is anaphylactic to peanuts so I understand how dangerous nuts can be. But at my two younger kids school they have bake sales and they raise lots of money for charity and also the kids’ happiness quotient. The no-nuts policy is in place and to my knowledge, there hasn’t been an allergy issue.
Parents in New York City will also be turning their ovens off, if the Department of Education gets their way.
In attempt to create a healthier atmosphere, thedepartment is effectively banning bake sales in schools. They argue that home bakers cannot work out the fat, calories and other nutritional content of their goods and therefore the school cannot know if the treats fit into the nutritional guidelines. The bureaucrats are suggesting that fundraisers find another other ways to raise money instead of selling home-baked treats or they can sell processed snacks from a pre-approved list. Vending machines will be stocked with highly processed “health” items like low-fat Doritos and snack bars as a way of satisfying the urge to snack.
I happen to think that home baking, even with its emphasis on butter and sugar is way healthier than what comes out of a plastic package. Why eat 30 ingredients of questionable origin when you can eat seven? Critics of the new plan say that the Board is emphasizing junk food and allowing the American process food industry to influence school kids.
It is true that we are facing a child obesity problem of epic proportions, but my guess is that a cupcake once a month is not the problem. There has been an outcry against the bake sale ban and a grassroots organization is putting together a giant bake sale on the steps of New York City Hall. For one day chocolate and politics will meet at their "bake-in", wish I could be there!
If I was there I might make these one-pot brownies from my book Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them. I am selfishly posting it because I keep getting asked for the recipe and it will be a lot easier if I can just refer people here. (Hold on, I should be telling people to buy my book because there are lots of good recipes in it). I got sucked into a brownie bake-off when we were visiting friends at their ski club and I am proud to say these won. And I am even happier to tell you that they take no time to throw together.
The trick to these brownies is to use the best chocolate that you can afford. I use Callebaut chips that I buy at the happiest store in Canada – Bulk Barn. If you use chips or chop up a large good-quality bar; you will need a scale (which is a worthwhile purchase, even though I mostly use it for this recipe). If you cannot find anything else, regular baking chocolate will still taste good.
I cannot cut in a straight line which means when I make brownies in a pan the squares come out all misshapen and ridiculous looking and then they can’t be sold for a consistent price. So now, I bake in silicone mini muffin moulds (for 20 minutes), they come out looking exactly like two-bite brownies. But the directions are still for a 8x13 dish.
One Pot Brownies
Because of the low flour amount, these are very easy to turn into gluten-free brownies, I use a gluten flour mix that I buy at the natural foods store and substitute for the all-purpose. Gluten-free people will be so happy because no one makes them anything yummy.
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or choc. chips
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup All Purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix (I use Molly B gluten-free muffin and cake blend)
¼ cup dutch process cocoa, sifted
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350
Grease an 8” square baking pan and line the bottom and two sides of the pan with parchment paper for easiest removal.
Melt butter and chocolate in a heavy pot over low heat. Remove from heat.
Stir in sugar and eggs until combined. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until just incorporated. Add vanilla, and chocolate chips and stir to distribute evenly.
Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until brownies are set and a cake tester comes out with crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake.