I’d like to apologize, firstly, for my longer than usual absence here.  We have been eking out as much as we can from this summer (the hottest on record so far I’ve heard!).  That means spending our precious weekends and holidays in search of a cool body of water in which to immerse ourselves.  Now that little C has grown to be quite the beach bum that also includes finding a sandy shore where she can busy herself with her pails and shovels.  Cocktails, ice cold beers, seafood, a hot grill, and (of course) great company were also on the agenda.

And, secondly Flower shop, I’d like to apologize for the amount of time I’ve been sitting on this absolutely fantastic brownie recipe.  I actually made them for one of the aforementioned beach trips.  My uncle had rented a house in a nearby beach for the summer (nearby meaning you don’t have to take a plane or a boat) and we went for a weekend.  Although my aunt insisted that they would take care of everything, I, of course, could not come empty handed.  So along with flip flops and sarongs and all manners of beach toys, I packed some of my favorite beef tapa and organic eggs (breakfast food…very important!), a bottle of Bombay, cans of Schweppes, and six lemons (preferred cocktail…also very important!), and these brownies.

Take them wherever you want a repeat invitation cube organizers!

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownies
(from David Lebovitz’s recipe as seen on Thyme for Cooking)

    3 ounces unsalted or salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
    8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large eggs, at room temperature
    1/4 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (I used walnuts)

- Line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with 2 lengths of parchment, allowing for excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan (this is how you will pull the brownies out later).  You can also use foil but I prefer parchment.  Lightly butter the parchment. (It’s mentioned that the original recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan, but I used an 8-inch and it turned out perfect)
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir by hand until it is melted and smooth SKI TRIP.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs by hand, one at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for one full minute.  Yes, this is important so time yourself.  The batter is supposed to lose its graininess in this time, becoming smooth and glossy, and pull away a bit from the sides of the saucepan.  After that, stir in the chopped nuts.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a pre-heated 350F oven until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
- Let the brownie cool completely in the pan (be patient!) before lifting the parchment and the brownie out of the pan. I give it an extra window of time to cool out of the pan as well (it’s the tropics after all!).  Cut the brownie into squares.

I stumbled on this recipe over at Katie’s and our beach trip was the perfect excuse to try them out.  There are two important things to remember when making them, as per the expert advice of Mr. Lebovitz -- one is to make sure that you do stir them quite vigorously and two that you stir (vigorously!) for the prescribed one minute, no less.  This is what makes that batter temptingly glossy and the resulting brownies fudgy as sin.  I’d also like to add, as with any brownie, whose majority is made up of chocolate, please use the best chocolate you can get your hands on.  The brownies will keep for 4 days (or one month frozen) although I highly doubt they will be around for that long.

So here we are at summer’s end.  The rainy season is slowly making its presence felt, although the heat is still asserting itself bullishly.  I am so very happy though, that despite almost melting a fair number of times, I can look back on a summer of sunshine and fun…and the memories of my little girl looking up at me with sand in her hair and hands, telling me that she is “so happy” to be in the beach.  And even if our tans may fade, and grey skies replace the blue ones, I’ll have a wonderful brownie recipe to see me through the rain.

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