If there is one food that I think of when I remember my mother-in-law Tovah, it's chocolate. It was her favorite her entire life. Chocolate bars, chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, assorted chocolates. (Remember those? The ones filled with nuts or caramel or toffee or flavored fillings? Did you high grade the best ones and leave the strawberry cream for everyone else? I did too. Our go to brand was called Purdys and one of the assorted flavors was three hazelnuts covered in chocolate. We'd fight over that one).
The last few months of her life when she was losing her appetite, she still had a taste for chocolate. At the end it was a cup of coffee and a bar of chocolate that got her through the day. Her grocery shopping list was a short one - instant coffee, milk, and Dairy Milk chocolate bars.
A square of chocolate. A slurp of hot coffee. And another square of chocolate chased by another slurp of coffee.
Her appetite wasn't the only thing she was losing - her memory was going too. We'd visit and find lukewarm cups of coffee all over the house. On the kitchen counter, on a sidetable in the living room, at her desk in front of her computer in her office. She'd make a cup of coffee, put it down with a chocolate bar, forget about it and then go make another.
I'm going to get a little Lion King on you right now and say that it's just the circle of life. We'll all be there too someday, with a failing memory and a cup of coffee and a piece or two of our favorite chocolate.
Again it's just simple pleasures.
Her favorite was the Dairy Milk slab. Creamy, milk chocolatey goodness. Forget about any flavors or fillings, plain milk chocolate was it.
And after she passed away, we found bars and bars of chocolate in a kitchen cupboard. Heaven forbid you run out!
One of my creative side projects is to take her favorite 1960/70's Mad Men era recipes and update them for modern tastes. I've already made moroccan ratatouille, shake & bake chicken, potato & rosemary quiche, and bing cherry muffins.
Because of her love for chocolate, I found the most decadent and rich and yummy brownie recipe.
A few more and I'll print them in a hardcover book for the family along with photos of Tovah. My 9 year old daughter is not only a doppelgänger for Tovah in personality, she shares her love of chocolate too. This brownie recipe is a hit with the girl.
Like any brownie, it's all in the quality of the chocolate. Use the best that you can find. Same with the cocoa. And it has 4 eggs so you know it'll be rich but not to dense. I don't like my brownies cake-like but nor do I like them fudgey - this one is an excellent balance between the two.
Decadent Chocolate Brownies by Jamie Oliver
250g unsalted butter (I’ve used salted if I’m out of unsalted butter)
200g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids, chopped)
80g cocoa powder, sifted (I “sift” it by stirring with a whisk)
65g flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
360 g granulated sugar
4 large eggs
zest of orange, optional
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a 9” square baking tin with parchment paper. You want it to overlap on each side because you’ll be lifting the brownies out of the pan once baked.
In a heatproof bowl over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate and mix until smooth. Don’t let the water boil – just warm enough to melt the chocolate nad butter. Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar. Add this to the chocolate mixture. Stir together well. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl til light yellow and foamy. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until silky.
Pour the brownie mixture into the baking tray and place in the over for about 25 minutes. Don’t overcook until the skewer comes out clean. You want them springy on the outside and gooey in the middle.
Allow them to cool in the tray and then lift out to a large cutting board. Cut into squares. Serve with crème fraiche mixed with orange zest.