Friday, July 19, 2013

An Indulgent Book Treat

Have you ever thought about how well chocolate goes with a good book? An indulgent serving of a salted almond brownie was perfect for a reading break. 
Salted Almond Brownies
Cook's notes: This recipe was adapted from Brownies and Bars BHG special interest publication 2013
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 TB. Kahlua
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 TB. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 3/4 cup smoked almonds (coarsely chopped in Cuisinart) 
  • 1/3 cup toasted coconut   

  • Nut mixture: In a Cuisinart chop the smoked almonds and mix in a small bowl with coconut-set aside
  • In a medium saucepan cook chopped chocolate and butter over low heat until melted and smooth-cool slightly
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line 9 x 9 inch glass plan with foil-grease foil
  • Stir sugar into chocolate mixture, add in eggs one at a time-whisk to make smooth
  • Stir in vanilla and Kahlua
  • In a small bowl stir flour, baking soda and cocoa powder 
  • Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon stir just till combined
  • Stir in white chocolate pieces  
  • Pour batter into prepared foil pan
  • Sprinkle nut mixture on top
  • Bake 25 minutes
  • Cool pan on a wire rack
  • Using edges of foil lift uncut brownies out 

The Chaperone by Laura  Moriarty has been on New York Times bestseller list and voted USA Today #1 Hot Fiction Pick. The reviews have been favorable. I enjoy reading books that direct me towards something new and interesting that I didn't know before. The name Louise Brooks is on the cover of the book jacket. I had to go online to find out more about the glamorous silent movie star of the 20's and early 30's. 

Mary Louise Brooks (November 14, 1906 – August 8, 1985), generally known by her stage name Louise Brooks, was an American dancer and actress, noted for popularizing the bobbed haircut.

While part of the story is about Louise Brooks it is more about Cora Carlisle. Cora is a properly married woman from Wichita, Kansas.  The Brooks family asks Cora to chaperone their 15 year old daughter to New York for five weeks where she has an opportunity to study dance and see the sights of New York. Louise is bubbly, obnoxious and irrelevant. She is a challenge for Cora always pushing the limits of acceptable behavior for a young woman in the 1920's. Cora is motivated to leave Wichita for travel and seek answers in New York about her birth mother. Cora, an orphan train child, was adopted at the age of 6 from a couple in the Midwest. About three fourths into the book the story almost reads like an epic, since at the end the story has spanned some 50 years of Cora's life. A common thread in this novel are the story events always seem to return to when Cora was a chaperone to Louise Brooks one summer. The novel covers a lot of territory with Prohibition, political issues, black versus white, Ku Klux Klan, societal values, expectations, restrictions, behaviors and morals of the times.    

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