When it comes to baking, I have a rule: always up the ante.
If you’re not familiar with poker terminology, let me rephrase that. It’s never decadent enough. We can always do more to make our baked goods push glorious boundaries. Brownies are particularly conducive to letting the crazy out. They’re like the best chocolate canvas ever.
These fudgy guys are a lot of fun. The bottom layer is chocolate graham crackers, followed by brownie batter with chocolate chips inside. So there’s the “triple” in the title. And then the whole kit n’ kaboodle is topped off with jumbo marshmallow slices. Aww yeah.
One of the reasons that I love to bake is that daydreaming has always been a huge part of my life. Whenever I’m off in other worlds, I imagine anything from new versions of cities I live in (I’ve dreamed an entirely different D.C. from the one people know and love) to baked goods. But sometimes, my daydreaming can really startle me with its power to completely transport me away from the present moment.
For instance, I sometimes daydream through a whole hour-long workout. Sure, my brain checks in now and then to make sure I’m still moving, but I will honestly not remember doing a lot of it. That doesn’t happen most of the time, but when I’m preoccupied or upset or trying to work something out, that other part of my brain takes over while my body just does whatever it’s supposed to do.
This morning, I was sweating through my favorite barre workout, Physique 57. It’s 57 minutes of working different muscle groups in intervals with the help of a ballet barre (yep, I actually own a barre), a ball, and some weights. Some days are easier than others. There are the days that it doesn’t really seem too terrible at all, while on other days, I actually groan out loud after a particularly grueling set.
Today was neither, because I was too busy daydreaming. This time, I was thinking about something that happened 15 years ago in my first year of teaching. It was Back to School Night, and I said something to a group of parents about the ninth grade class I was teaching at the time, and how my goal was to extend on what they learned in middle school. One person in that room went to a middle school teacher she knew and told him that I’d been trashing middle school teachers for not doing their jobs well enough.
Instead of giving me the benefit of the doubt, or letting it go, or doing anything that would have been appropriate, this teacher (or bully, really) wrote me the nastiest e-mail about how I clearly could teach him so much about how to do his job, seeing as how I was brand-new and he’d been doing it for 16 years. The e-mail was sarcastic, vitriolic, and completely the wrong message to send to a new teacher.
I never told this person what I thought of him, but part of me has always wanted to tell him that, despite his best efforts, I’m still teaching. And 15 years later, I could tell him that I actually do have a lot to teach him about doing his job because I would never do what he did to me. New teachers should be counseled and guided and encouraged. They need support, not sarcasm. The fact that this man believed a rumor about someone he didn’t even know is one thing, but how he acted on it was even worse. And I’ve never forgotten his name. Someday, I might need it.
So as I thought about him during squats and reps, I came to the same conclusion I always come to. He’s a life lesson, a great example of what not to be. And that’s probably it. Besides, I’m so much cooler. I make triple chocolate s’more brownies, for heaven’s sake. And if I ever met him, I wouldn’t share. So there.
Apparently, it was national s’mores day a couple of weeks back. Well, I’m always late to the party when these supposed holidays come up. I need a day planner that tells me what food day it is. That would help. But I didn’t want you to think that I don’t love s’mores with all my heart, so here you go.
They’re easy, fun, and perfect to eat while daydreaming. Though to be honest, I try not to daydream when I’m eating brownies. That’s the best time to be present. You can save the mental vacations for working out and other unpleasantness!
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Line the bottom with the chocolate graham crackers. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cocoa into the melted butter until it dissolves. Add the sugar and stir again. When the sugar is incorporated, mix in the vanilla and eggs. Add the salt and flour, mixing until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and place the marshmallow slices on top evenly.
- Put the brownies back in the oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until set.
- Cool completely and cut into squares.