Valentine brownies

Odds are, you will need something chocolate in the next couple of weeks. Here is a re-post of my Bake Sale Brownie recipe from April 2018 and its rather silly origin that you may enjoy. 🙂

This gluten-free batch was made without the coffee twist, but has two topping choices — crushed candy canes or dark chocolate chips.

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 still can 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

Mix one box brownie mix (gluten or gluten-free) according to package directions. (Sub oil if you have a box recipe that asks for melted butter and you are dairy free.) Add one extra egg and 3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules and mix until moistened throughout. Pour mix into prepared pan (coated with oil rather than butter if you’re dairy free). Sprinkle the top generously with 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Use vegan/dark chocolate chips if you are dairy free.)

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 you like nuts, layer walnut halves on the bottom of the pan before carefully pouring in mix. If you like peppermint, leave out the coffee and top with crushed candy canes. If you are fund-raising, cut the brownies into goodly-sized rectangles, wrap each with waxed paper and tie with a colorful 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.)

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