Monday, September 24, 2012

Boobs and brownies

Last night, I shoved a bag of coffee beans into my chocolate cabinet and it didn't go in all the way. It's a tall, narrow cabinet with deep shelves and I couldn't see what was blocking my beans. I pulled a chair over and rooted around in the cabinet to find two bars of bittersweet Scharffen Berger chocolate hidden behind a stack of Lindt. After much celebrating, I made brownies. Not just any brownies, mind you, but the darkest, chewiest, deadliest brownies ever. EVER. To put them totally over the top, I whisked up egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and coconut for a crisp/chewy macaroon crust which can be omitted if you're not a coconut lover or feel like being a purist and going all chocolate instead.

Unexpected chocolate is awesome. Unexpected writing is awesome too. I had both over the weekend. An idea I've played with for the last two years came dancing out of my head with jazz hands and I filled page after page with pretty new words. It's on like Donkey Kong now and I couldn't stop it if I tried. No, you can't read my WIP. But you can read the first (rough) draft of my query for THE SALINE SOLUTION, YA contemporary.

Ethel's family calls her E as in Ethylene Glycol--her favorite part of Forensic Night at the Klyczek home. Her boyfriend calls her E as in ever since they were nine years old. And her friends call her E as in "wishes she was a 34E instead of a 34A".

Standing behind Boobs McGee and her busty court at the Fairest of the Fair pageant, E hits the breaking point. That night, E devises The Saline Solution. Five months working the drive-thru window at the CDC (Clark's Delicious Chicken), saving gas money by taking the school bus (shudder), and a little help from her college fund should be enough for a new set of twins by senior prom. The Saline Solution goes public. Car washes and sponsorships put E in the spotlight at White County High and suddenly, she's on a whole new rung of the popularity ladder.  

The price of her new figure keeps climbing as The Saline Solution springs a leak. Her boyfriend's had enough of the attention E's boobs (or lack of) are getting and her best friend's fed up with the social circus around her. Even her parents and teachers are overreacting about the whole thing. A lockdown on the college fund, a ban on fundraising at the school, and hostile friends are pushing E over the edge. 

Prom is just three weeks after her 18th birthday and all eyes will be on E's Cs--if she doesn't give up on The Saline Solution.

Wishing you bars of unexpected chocolate and pages of unexpected writing. If you need inspiration, here's the recipe for my Scharffen Berger brownies.

DARKEST BROWNIES

6oz bittersweet chocolate (66-72% cacao, preferably Scharffen Berger or Valrhona)
7T unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Finely chop chocolate and melt in a double boiler (or cheat and use the microwave like I often do) with butter and sugar. Add vanilla and salt and stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour and beat until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape batter into parchment lined 8x8 pan and spread evenly.

For macaroon crust;
2 egg whites
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1t vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a heatproof bowl and heat in double boiler (or microwave), stirring frequently, until very hot to the touch and egg whites have thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Use fingers or a fork to drop over the brownie batter in the pan.

Bake brownies (with or without coconut) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until puffed at the edges and coconut is golden brown. Center should still be soft but not gooey. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack or in the refrigerator.

Served at room temperature, these brownies are meltingly smooth and intensely chocolate. Served cold (the way I like them) they're dense and fudgy and perfectly chewy. You win either way.