July 15, 2010

Of any subject I have written, this is my hardest post.

I have come to understand an important truth about life. That no matter how deeply I am in love, the unfortunate and sad truth is that there are times when my love is not enough. For example, when I listen only to my heart when my head tells me that it is foolish; this has always left me with a broken heart. Or when love is lopsided; then the pain is sure to be unbearable.

And so too is my love of brownies. In 1995 and 1996, I ate the worlds best brownies in Antigua Guatemala.  And as the years have passed, I have never made brownies since; not once.  Not because I don’t love them, or love chocolate, but because trying to enjoy something when your heart is elsewhere is unfulfilling.

The best brownies I've eaten in 15 years, but I still want more.

Truth be told, a primary factor in my returning to Guatemala after 14 years was the lure of more brownies.  When I arrived, the cafe was no longer there. I tried many brownies all over Antigua during the two weeks I was in Guatemala, but none could hold a candle to my memory of the World’s Best Brownies.  Finally, two days before coming home a man in the main plaza listened to my story, and gave me the cafe’s new address. They had only moved to a new location.

The storefront had changed. Temporarily dashing my dream of eating the world's best brownies.

But time has not been kind to my brownies. These were frosted (a brownie should never be frosted, as there should be nothing to cover up). The texture was good, fudgy, but the flavors were too refined. The brownies had lost their grittiness. Sort of like giving American milk chocolate to someone accustomed to European Chocolate. So I sadly ate them during my remaining two days in Guatemala, but I came to understand that love exists only at any given moment. Going back to try to recover it is impossible. I was reminded of this poem by Ernest Hemingway.

A fudgy texture, but this brownies has lost its raw beauty.

So it was with all this baggage, that I made what Chris Kimball calls Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies. Obviously, these were just as unfilling as all the other brownies I’ve had over the past month. They had a dense crumb, rather than fudgy texture.  Still, the best brownies I’ve eaten since 1996, but the title of “World’s Best Brownie” remains unclaimed.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $3.50 for 16 two-inch squares.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5:30 PM. Done cooling at 8:00 PM.

"The Cinderella Cafe" two blocks above Plaza Mayor in Antigua Guatemala.

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