“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Charles Schulz, American cartoonist
It all started when a church youth leader wanted to drive home the point of the parable of the talents (an ancient unit of money). Like the executive type in Jesus’s story, she gave each of us a crisp dollar bill and challenged us to use whatever skills God had given us to multiply it for a missions offering.
Even then, it was hard to figure out how to take a single dollar and do very much. Call it providence, call it a sweet tooth, the answer came in the grocery aisle. Box-mix brownies, which in many places still cost less than a dollar if you go for the store brand. I paid for the box, took them home and doctored them up. Then I sold them to kindly church ladies and gentlemen for exorbitant prices.
The lesson was not lost on me. Chocolate can work small miracles. OK, maybe that wasn’t quite what the youth leader had in mind, but it’s still true, and I’m still working those brownies to this day. They have comforted the sick and those packing moving boxes, raised money for a multitude of church and school causes, been served at office and dinner parties, and been whipped up for tween/teen sleepovers.
When I mentioned sharing our “family recipe,” our daughters balked. I reminded them, however, everyone deserves good brownies. They make the world a better place. So, here goes:
Bake Sale Brownies
Prepare one box inexpensive brownie mix according to package directions. Add one extra egg and 3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules and mix until moistened throughout. Pour mix into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top generously with 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips. Bake as directed on the box. Cool completely. Cut into 12-18 pieces for single servings or into one-inch squares for a party tray.
(Some added twists. If someone is dairy free, use a dark chocolate chip. If you like nuts, layer walnut halves on the bottom of the pan before carefully pouring in mix. If you are fund-raising, cut the brownies into 12 rectangles, wrap each with waxed paper and tie with a yarn bow. Put a label on the tray that says “Double-Chocolate Mocha Brownies,” and you’ve probably doubled your selling price. Seriously. People like chocolate that much.)