My “Top Secret” Brownie Recipe

Psst! Yea, you. Get close to the screen. I’m about to spill the beans (cacao beans, in particular) on my favorite brownie recipe. If you are a, um, “reformed chocoholic” like myself, then you can leave this blog entry right now. But if you’re devoted to all things Hershey, read on.

In my senior year at Oberlin College, I asked the owner of a local restaurant if they would share with me the recipe for their scrumptious, out-of-this-world brownies. These amazing treats had helped fuel many an all-nighter, and were always just the ticket when I needed to boost my spirits. Anyway, the owner said “no” at first. She was worried that I might start selling these brownies on my own. I reassured her that I was much too busy to do such at thing, and would only bake up batches for lucky friends and family after I graduated. To sweeten the deal, I offered to trade the brownie recipe for my recipe for amazing chocolate chunk cookies that I used to include as part of my Groucho Gram singing telegram service. The owner was hesitant. So I went home and baked a batch of my chocolate chunk cookies and returned the following day, with the recipe as well. The owner enjoyed my homemade goodies, and finally agreed to share the brownie recipe.

Which I now pass onto you… (with some minor tweaks from experiments in the kitchen) Bon Appetit!


Yields: 2 pans of the most awesomely fudgy brownies you’ve ever tasted (about 32 large brownies in all)

8 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares
1-1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
6 eggs
3 cups of sugar
1-1/2 cups of flour
3 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. instant coffee
1 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts or pecans)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare two 8 x 8 inch pans by coating with butter, then coating with flour and shaking off the excess.

Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate in either double boiler, or in large bowl in microwave (but be careful not to burn chocolate in microwave). Cool the mixture to room temperature

With hand mixer (or strong arms!) eat eggs, add sugar, and melted butter/chocolate.

Add flour, vanilla, salt, instant coffee, chopped nuts, and chocolate chips.

Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Should be tender and fudgy. They will set up as they cool.

(By the way, feel free to respond to this entry with any of your own favorite recipes.)

paper airplane and crumbs

I’m “Mr. Consultant” for THE MR. MEN SHOW

I was recently hired to be the “Educational Consultant” for the second season of The Mr. Men Show, a silly and popular animated kids show on the Cartoon Network. Based on the hugely popular Mr. Men and Little Miss book series by British author Roger Hargreaves, this satirical cartoon fulfills a vital and heartfelt need for the preschool audience–namely, teaching children the nuances of sketch comedy. (“No, sweetie, that’s a double-take. Mommy asked you to do a spit-take.”) Each of the characters–from Mr. Messy to Miss Daredevil, from Mr. Persnickety to Miss Sunshine–all have distinct, quirky personalities, and somehow joyfully co-exist in the fictional town of Dillydale.

Some of you might be wondering: Why does this wacky series would need an “educational consultant”? In order to make the series as amusing as possible to young children ages 4-7, it is important that the writers, artists, and producers tailor the content so that it isn’t too sophisticated, or too scary. Since many of the sketches spoof everyday experiences (going to the beach, eating at a fancy restaurant, fixing a leaky roof), it is important that kids have a solid frame of reference to appreciate the jokes.

I encourage you to watch The Mr. Men Show on the Cartoon Network, and check out the show’s official web site. If you’re curious to know more about the show’s educational focus, see this link that offers some thoughts on Mr. Men’s learning goals.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Memoir

I recently came across a couple of interesting memoirs that deal with one of my favorite subjects: humor (or “humour” to my friends in Canada and the U.K.) What’s really impressed me about these books is that they deal with humor in a way that is both analytical and funny. Most people would agree with E.B. White who quipped, “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” Robin Williams expressed the same sentiment when he told an interviewer, “Analyzing humor is like self-abuse with sandpaper.” While discussions of humor and comedy can indeed be deadly; others can be quite delightful and thought-provoking. Here are some reactions to these memoirs, which I hope you’ll be inspired to read yourself.

Read the rest of this entry »

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