Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's Your Food Story #1: Legend of the Pecan Truffle Brownies by Nancy Hartwell

Welcome to the What's Your Food Story contest! For the rest of this month, you'll see stories with a food theme AND a yummy recipe to go along with it.

 If you'd like to submit your own food story/recipe, see all the details here: DEADLINE: September 30

#1: Legend of the Pecan Truffle Brownies

by Nancy Hartwell

“Zoltan Zafar! Zoë Zelda! Come here right this minute!”

“Sounds like we’re in trouble again, Zozo,” Zoltan said.

“So, what else is new?”

The twin dragons appeared in front of their mother, brandishing a letter from Draco High. “First it was the Mustard Incident. Then the Toothpaste Incident. The frogs, and now this.  Exactly what happened?”

Zoë explained. “Well, when they made us stay after school after the frog thing, they had us mopping and waxing the stage to get ready for the pep rally. And you know, like, those prissy cheerleaders, like, they’re supposed to be all popular and everything but, like, most of us, like, hate them, because they’re so mean if you’re not in their, like, prissy clique…”

Zoltan took over. “So we polished the stage with dish soap and diesel fuel. Made it real shiny, but like, not even a cat would have been able to stand up on it. So out come the cheerleaders all, like, prissy, throwing their tails around, and the first one falls down, and then the second on top of her, and like dominoes, they all go down. Mom, it was hilarious! Then Coach Zilig comes out to see what’s happening, and she goes down, and then Mr. Zaklon, and he goes down. Like demolition derby, right there on the stage! It was awesome.
Everybody was laughing their brains out, falling out of their chairs, rolling on the floor.”

“You mean to tell me that during detention you two cooked up another scheme?”

“Yeah, um, like, right. But Mom, even you’re laughing. It was really funny!”

“I’ve been meaning to ask you more about these frogs. How did you manage to catch 37 of them?”

Zoltan shrugged. “No big deal. Asked my buddy Jordan, you know, like, he’s like the mayor of the pond, and told him we needed to create a diversion so we could get another day to study for the trig exam. We thought that, like, frogs jumping all over the exam hall would be lots of fun, so he said he’d round up his gang. We just stopped by and picked them up. We told him we’d help his pollywogs with their chemistry exam, and flame off the ice on the pond whenever they needed. He promised us 40 frogs but only 37 of them showed up.”

“Mom,” added Zoë, you should have seen it. Frogs everywhere. One landed on Mrs. Ziltog’s forehead. Good thing everybody has to turn off their flame throwers when you come onto the school grounds or he would have been vaporized for sure.”

“It worked, too,” said Zoltan proudly, “do you realize how long it takes to capture 37 frogs, especially since, like, um, some of them were like, caught, and then, um, accidentally, like, let go again? We all got an extra day to study. How else do you think I got a B+ in trig?”

Their mother shook her head. “In many ways I’m proud of you two. You’re imaginative, creative, and you plan and carry out complicated tasks with no trouble. But I’m not sensing much regret about the pep rally.”

“Regret? Are you kidding? That was the most awesome thing; nobody has ever, like, been able to pull something off like that. They’ll be talking about it for months, probably even years!” Zoltan and Zoë gave each other a high-four, grinning from ear to ear.

“You two need to learn that there’s funny, and then there’s funny at someone else’s expense. If you were a cheerleader, or the coach, or the principal, you wouldn’t think that it was very funny.”

The twins sighed. “I guess you’re right, Mom,” said Zoë quietly.

“I want you to write a note of apology to each one of the dragons you made fall down, and I want you to do something nice for each one. You know them, what do they especially like?”

“I’m not sorry one bit about making Miss Super-Priss fall down on her prissy tail,” said Zoë.

“Sometimes you have to say you’re sorry before you really are. And if you don’t write her and tell her you’re sorry, you will really be sorry, I guarantee you that. Do I make myself clear?”

“I guess so, Mom.”

“Coach Zilig likes brownies,” volunteered Zoltan.

“Okay, then make them each a plate of brownies and you attach the note to them. And I want to see each note. Here’s a brownie recipe, now get cooking.”

They set about in the kitchen. “Mom? How long do we toast the pecans?”

“Flame them one second on low.”

“You know what we should do? Put like, a whole box of chocolate-flavored laxative in these,” said Zoltan.

“Let’s! Yes!” Then she stopped short. “Zolti, we’re doing it again. It would be really really funny, but we’d like, be in detention, like, the rest of our lives.”

“You’re right. But it would be so much fun.” He sighed and turned back to the bowl. “I think I messed up here,” said Zoltan, “I think I put twice the butter and chocolate while I was thinking about the laxative. But it’s too late now, let’s see how they turn out. Mom? How long do we flame them?”

“Six point four seconds on medium.”

The brownies were amazing – incredibly rich and fudgy, almost like the chocolate truffles from the candy store. Zoltan and Zoë stared at each other in astonished disbelief. “Dude! These are the best brownies I ever had in my entire life!” said Zoë.

As they packaged up the brownies and wrote the notes, Zoltan said, “Zozo, do you realize that this sneaky mother of ours is dooming us to be as nice as her?”

And that is the story of how pecan truffle brownies were created.

By the way, Miss Super-Priss was so impressed with the brownies, and she thought the note was so sweet, that she admitted Zoë into her clique and they soon became second-best friends.

Pecan Truffle Brownies

1/2 pound butter (the real thing)
1 12 oz bag Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup powdered cocoa
7 oz sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
3 ounces chopped pecans (toasted at 350 for 5 minutes)
Preheat oven to 350. Melt the chocolate and the chocolate together in 10-second bursts in the microwave, stirring after each burst. Do not burn!
Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Add the chocolate mixture and pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over batter. Bake for 32 minutes. Do not overbake!


Nancy Hartwell grew up in Tampa, Florida, and studied international relations at American University in Washington. She married a distinguished attorney from Cameroon, where she lived and worked for 14 years. Most of her career has been devoted to international trade and development. She has traveled to 44 countries and can get into trouble in more than 20 languages.

A lifelong writer, she published her first poem in a national magazine at age 8. She has had radio plays produced by the BBC and ORTF (France). She was a technical writer for a special division of The Washington Post on Capitol Hill, and was lead proposal writer for an international development consulting company. Her first novel, Harem Slave, about a victim of human trafficking, reached number one best-seller in its category on five weeks after its release, and hit number seven in all fiction shortly thereafter. The sequel, Prince Ibrahim's Favorite, and a companion volume, Voices from the Harem, will be released next week.

She lives in Maryland with her three beloved cats.

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, I loved the story and the yummy recipe. I pass recipes to my granddaughter who loves to bake.

    What an intresting life you've led. Your books all sound like winners.

    Best wishes and lots of luck.


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