December 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
There’s a lot of hope in baking. You measure and mix, apply heat and hope. Hope that the final product will be nothing short of tastebud-dazzling or, at the very least, not passed over at the party. Baking tests me, as one with perfectionist tendencies. I want everything I attempt to be delicious, and, yes, beloved by all who taste it. Every time I bake is an invitation, though, to let go of my strictures and just enjoy the process as it unfolds. After all the time and effort put in, I do always hope that all will turn out alright. But my world will not be torn asunder if it doesn’t and now there’s a new Fresh Market with a bakery close by for when there’s a flop. Thankfully, the recipe the title alludes to was an unqualified success that I proudly took to a work luncheon today. A brownie by any other name might smell as sweet, but that word alone does immediately conjure, for me, the ideal square of slightly gooey chocolate with a crispy top crust that shatters as you cut into the slab. The Nutella here isn’t obvious, and the peanut butter adds a salty note. (My tweaks: I split the two cups of sugar from the original recipe into less than 1 cup each of brown and granulated sugar, and I didn’t do the topping.)
The hope I have in these kitchen endeavors led me to thinking of hope in a more meaningful context, namely, that which this season brings to bear. I am reminded, especially on Sundays, of the reason behind that larger hope–the birth of Christ that points to the cross he bore and how his sacrifice saves those who believe. The church I’ve been visiting gave out beautifully designed devotionals for the Advent season, and each day’s entry is written by a new member. They are thoughtful and heartfelt and full of hope and grace. The devotionals have been my morning/night companion since December 1st. They remind me (just when I need it) where to place my hope in all seasons, not in my own grasping at perfection or the consuming desire to do all things right. In the kitchen and in life, I will have disappointments and outcomes that fall short of what I have planned and sought carefully to achieve. There are equally times of undeserved reward. It’s all the more poignant when I’m convinced I’ve flopped and then, out of the oven, comes an even better result.