It was the best of climes, it was the worst of climes,
it was the age of scrubs, it was the age of dishwashers,
it was the epoch of eyeballing, it was the epoch of measuring-out-to-the-grain,
it was the season of nuts, it was the season of chocolate,
it was the spring of ovens, it was the winter of stovetops,
we had the whole tray of brownies and nuts before us, we had no trace of brownies and nuts before us,
we were all going to put on our brand spanking new stretchy pants, we were all going to fit into our size 1 jea–
nope, just stretchy pants–
–in short, the period was so masochistically like the kitchen of every avid cook, that nobody in their right mind could help licking the last drop of raw brownie batter from the bowl even though they are not supposed to, and then wistfully wishing they had not done so because they were supposed to be losing some chubs before the end of the world came on the 21st of December, 2012, and they wanted to look damn good when it did, for no real reason whatsoever other than that it would be a good note to end the world on, the neurotic crumb-sneaking baker and a poster of size 0 Jennifer Aniston hanging on the wall, in the most fanciful and unrealistic degree of comparison only.
It was the age of brownies and nuts.
The holidays had come.
This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes. Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food. Please let Ala know what you think of these stories–she’d love to hear what you think!
The original text of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Extra Fudgy Cheesecake-Topped Brownies Yield: 1 9×13-inch baking pan Ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cups butter or margarine, melted
- 3 3/4 cups white sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- For cheesecake layer:
- 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- Splash of vanilla
- For fudgy ganache:
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup (+2 tablespoons, as needed) milk
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
- In a large bowl, beat together melted margarine, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chunks. Pour batter evenly into greased pan.
- To make cheesecake layer: In a separate medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix until smooth. Spread over brownie batter.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Prick brownies all over with a toothpick (this will allow your ganache to flow into the brownies and really get them moist!).
- To make ganache: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a rolling boil. Allow to boil for one minute, then remove from heat and beat for about 1 minute, until mixture thickens slightly. Pour over slightly cooled brownies.
- 1 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Place almonds in a saucepan or pot. Over medium-low heat, add sugar to almonds. Stir constantly–the sugar should begin to clump together at first, but it should start to melt into a creamy brown liquid after the first minute or two. Continue to stir until most of the sugar has melted and clumps onto the almonds. (The process should take no more than 3-4 minutes total–avoid the temptation to turn up your heat too high, as you may scorch the sugar.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Serve as a party dish or package them tightly as gifts.