March sneaked up on us, hiding behind chilly temperatures and gusts of cold air. I should have known that my simple act of shipping off my only warm coat to the cleaners last week would open the door for an unwelcome cold front. I have been reassured by the Weather People, however, that the cold weather won’t last long, and that warmth will soon be here for good.
Looking back, the winter was fairly mild here in north Florida, with less than a dozen (less than ten, even?) freezing nights. My children donned their Scientist caps on those days, experimenting with what would freeze outside and what would not. Because we deprived them of their only wish, ever, please — to see snow — they became obsessed with making ice. Mostly they stuck to variations on a theme — water in a vessel of some type.
The kids learned that our back porch is more insulated than our back patio, and if they wanted to make ice, the location of their water cup placement is critical to the process. They learned that water in a plastic cup freezes more slowly than water in a glass. Oliver learned that the addition of a Hot Wheels sports car will impede freezing, and that stirring dirt into the glass of water doesn’t seem to have much effect. Most importantly, the kids had fun with science.
Of coure, they’re still ticked at us for not taking them to see snow. But they’ll get over it.
Sometimes experiments go wrong – like adding a Hot Wheels to water to see it will freeze on a 40 degree night – and we regroup and try again. Other times, more uncommonly, experiments go wrong and in doing so, something great results. These brownies are an example.
Experience has taught me that baking marshmallows on top of a dessert for more than a few minutes in a hot oven is a bad idea. I learned that lesson some time ago, and I learned it the hard and messy way. But despite having this background knowledge, I experimented again, determined to create a brownie with fluffy marshmallow bits in the center.
I did not achieve what I was aiming for. The brownies didn’t have that rocky-road-but-without-the-nuts thing that I was going for. Instead, these brownies were the result – chocolatey and extra gooey, with occasional craters on the top where a marshmallow had risen to the surface. Bites of those parts were crisp but chewy, in a good way. I was prepared to trash the entire batch, but surprisingly, I liked them. The kids adored them, and they continue to beg me to make the brownies again.
And baking these gooey chocolate brownies sure is easier than taking them to see snow, so why not?
Gooey Chocolate Brownies
Yield: 16 brownies
The marshmallows in these brownies up the gooeyness factor. Be sure to mix them in entirely, so that no dry marshmallows are showing, otherwise you risk burning them.
3.5 ounces (100 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in middle position. Prepare 8 x 8 inch baking pan: butter the pan, then line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
In a large metal bowl set over a saucepan filled with an inch or two of simmering water, melt the chocolate chips with the butter. Stir occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Stir in sugar until completely incorporated. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Stir into chocolate mixture so that the eggs are fully mixed in. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa. Add to chocolate mixture and stir well until batter is smooth. Fold in marshmallows completely.
Spread batter evenly in the prepared baking pan, then bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack, then lift on the sides of the parchment overhang to remove the brownies, still on the parchment. Cut into 2-inch squares.