The most common comment I get from readers after they finish Meant To Be is that they're left craving brownies, so here's the recipe for the brownies that bring Daniel and Marienne together, first as friends and eventually as lovers. They're the perfect chewy, chocolatey fudge brownies with a delicate flaky top. Enjoy!
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Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Fudge Brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I use Baker’s unsweetened)
¾ cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (go a little over rather than a little under)
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly butter a 9x13 inch metal baking pan. (Note: If you only have a glass pan that will work too, but lower the oven temp to 325 degrees.)
Place butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir butter/chocolate mixture until all the chocolate is completely melted. (Note: If you don’t have a microwave you can do this in a pot on top of the stove, just make sure to do it over low enough heat that you don’t brown/scald the butter.)
When all the chocolate is melted, stir in 2 cups of sugar. Mix until completely blended.
Add three eggs and the hearty teaspoon of vanilla. Stir until completely blended.
Stir in 1 cup of flour.
Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Spread evenly in buttered pan.
Place pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 33 minutes.
Remove brownies from the oven and insert a toothpick in the center to test them. If the toothpick still has wet batter on it, put them back in for a minute or two. If it has fudgy crumbs stuck to it or comes out clean, you’re done. (You’re aiming for fudgy crumbs, but honestly it depends what you hit when you stick the toothpick in---if it looks like you stabbed a chocolate chip and the toothpick has melted chocolate on it, take a fresh toothpick and try again.) DO NOT OVERBAKE THESE BROWNIES---a few extra minutes in the oven will turn them from a delightfully soft chewy/gooey treat into chocolate flavored bricks. Better underdone than overdone.
Let the pan cool on a rack for at least an hour or so (if you can wait a few hours that’s even better).
Once the pan is completely cool you can cut the brownies into squares (or rectangles, or whatever other shapes you please). Use a very sharp knife, or a pizza cutter, or a sharp-edged spatula. Store any brownies you’re not planning on eating immediately in an airtight container or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Air is not their friend and they will dry up if left uncovered.
Individually wrapped brownies travel well and are great for bake sales, packed lunches, or kept in a purse or briefcase for potentially stressful moments.
For an extra-special treat these can be topped with a swirl of your favorite chocolate frosting and a pretty M&M, but really, they don’t need it.
They’re pretty tasty under ice cream and hot fudge as well.
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Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one. When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.
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