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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bouquets of Freshly Sharpened Pencils

One chapter of this summer is closing.  My parents have just left after their annual visit to Alaska.  Another chapter is opening, though;  tomorrow I start rehearsals for On Golden Pond.  I always think of the first day of rehearsals like the first day of school:  anything can happen.  There is anticipation mixed with a little dread.  My evenings and Saturday afternoons will no longer be my own, there will be drama (hopefully mostly) onstage, but a little offstage as well.  It's inevitable.  The goal is that at the end we will have something wonderful.

The late, wonderful Nora Ephron wrote a great line that Tom Hanks writes to Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.  He refers to the beginning of the school year in New York and says that if he could, "I would send you bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils."  I love that line.  It speaks of the same optimism with which I start the rehearsal process whenever I direct.

It's funny, but I never use pencils--except when I direct.  The notes I write for my actors, to be given at the end of rehearsals, are always in pencil.  The stage manager always writes notes in pencil in the script, so they can be changed at any time.  Theatre is a constantly evolving process, a living thing.

Tomorrow the cast will sit together for the first time and read through the script.  Several of them have never met, but they will spend much of the next ten weeks together. 

In honor of the occasion, I am bringing them these brownies.  They have great texture and a sweetness that I hope the twelve-year-old in the cast will love, but I made them with a combination of Ghirardelli and Guittard chocolates, which I hope the adults will appreciate.

The next time I make these, I will cut back the granulated sugar to 3/4 cup.  If you like a slightly less sweet brownie, I recommend this adaptation.

Rocky Road Brownies
Adapted from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
1/4 semisweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard wafers, chopped)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spritz a 9 by 9 baking pan with nonstick spray with flour.

In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, unsweetened chocolate and two tablespoons of the semisweet chocolate over medium heat.  As soon as all the ingredients are melted, remove the mixture from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until they are light and slightly foamy.  Add the chocolate mixture and then sift in the flour and salt.  Beat the mixture again until just combined.

Spread half the batter in the pan and bake for about 12 minutes.  While this is baking, add the butterscotch chips, marshmallows and remaining semisweet chocolate to the batter and stir together.  Remove the pan from the oven and spread the remainder of the batter over the bottom layer.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Some of the marshmallows may burst and spread goo over the brownies;  don't worry, this just makes them tastier.

Cool the brownies for an hour on a wire rack.  Makes 12 to 16, depending on size.

51 comments:

  1. Rocky Road Brownies?! Yes, please. I love all your additions (except I'm not a big fan of butterscotch, so I'll these sans that)

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    1. The original recipe called for peanut butter chips rather than the butterscotch, but I couldn't find them (darn Alaska grocery stores!)--would those work for you instead of the butterscotch?

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  2. Bribing the cast with freshly baked brownies - great idea! These look gorgeous!

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    1. I'm not beyond a little bribery if it will help! The cast gathered around the pan of brownies during the rehearsal break, so some bonding definitely occurred.

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  3. What a good recipe. Who doesn't love brownies?! Those would be the first thing to go at a picnic.

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  4. Good luck on your first day of rehearsal!! I am amazed at what you do!
    I am sure your cast will appreciate these decadent treats, they are lucky ducks!

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  5. seriously incredible brownies! good luck with your first day of rehearsal!

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  6. Have fun on your first day of rehearsal,the brownies sound YummY,i like that you add butterscotch and marsmalow -sweet and goo-wee :)

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  7. One word... YUMMMYYYYYY!! Brownies are always welcome in my company. :) You will spoil the cast with these decadent treats. Have a great time in your rehearsal... On Golden Pond is a wonderful story.

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  8. Sweet jesus, if your cast doesn't like these brownies, they're nuts! Feel free to send whatever they don't eat my way.

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  9. I can totally appreciate the relationship with the pencil-still my favorite writing tool.

    I can also relate to the power of brownies, always a favorite.

    Cheers.
    Velva

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  10. As soon as I read your post title I recognized the movie line immediately! Granted I have a soft spot since I live here but Nora Ephron was right. New York is beautiful in the fall and the crisp weather seems to fill us all with possibilities. Good luck with the play. Tell any drama queens (or kings) in the cast that, if they don't behave, they won't get these brownies. :)

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    1. As a New Yorker, I imagine Nora Ephron must really speak to you. I've always thought they should do a tour of Nora Ephron's New York, with stops at delis, Zabar's and other gourmet meccas.

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  11. Your brownies must taste heavenly made with such top notch and delicious chocolates! Good luck with the play rehearsals and a brand new season of theater!

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    1. There are recipes where the type of chocolate matters less, but I think the Guittard in particular made a difference in the quality of these brownies.

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  12. I love that line, I don't recall it. Makes sense to always be doing changes and having to erase. Do you have a good eraser too? ;-)

    Good luck on your first read through and they will so love these brownies.

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    1. A good eraser! I knew I was forgetting something to keep in my bag.

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  13. I hope the first day of rehearsals for On Golden Pond went well. Your brownies are wonderful.

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  14. Wow, these brownies look amazing!

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  15. I 'send you bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils' all the way north up the Pacific from Australia - go well and may the inspiration fairies be with you :) !

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    1. Eha, thanks for the good wishes! I appreciate them and your visiting my blog.

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  16. My best my friend I bet everything is going to go wonderfully :D
    Just as wonderfully as your brownies in fact!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  17. Rocky road! These look delicious!

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    1. They really are delicious, sticky and a little bit chewy. They were a huge hit with my cast. Thanks for visiting!

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  18. I still love the movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, a classic I can watch over and over. Lovely brownies you made and the last pic looks so good.

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  19. Well, it actually is back to school time here. The staff showed up yesterday. I love that quote and I wish I had remembered it for a "back to school" welcome gift for the staff. Haven't made brownies in a while. Will have to remedy that soon. Look forward to reading about the new production

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    1. Good luck with the back to school process! What a fun teacher gift a bouquet of pencils would be.

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  20. This is the first time in 24 years I don't have a child going back to school, YIPPEE. I love these brownies, I sure they will be a great way to break the ice. Good luck with the play!!

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    1. Oh, wow, that must be a huge change in your life! Does that mean you have more free time to cook?

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  21. These brownies look sensational! Thanks for the suggestion of cutting down on the sugar. And I'm looking forward to future updates on the play!

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    1. Never fear, they're coming! We're only two days into rehearsals, but I'm feeling very optimistic.

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  22. Brownies AND freshly sharpened pencils. Fabulous and I love the symbolism in your post.

    Also, I love that movie! LOL!

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  23. If you brought me these brownies I would love you forever. You have some very lucky actors. These brownies look amazing and super chocolatey.

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  24. Oh wow, your brownies look really good and I'm sure your crew will really enjoy these beauties :)
    Loved that movie, although I don't remember the line ;)

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    1. My recollection is that it's in one of the e-mails Tom Hanks sends Meg Ryan talking about the back-to-school season in NYC. I know it's sentimental, but I love that movie. I watch both it and "Love, Actually" while cooking for the holidays.

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  25. You are going to be the most popular person on the planet with those brownies. wow.

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  26. sorry about that type wrongly..i always love brownies, especially homebaked.

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  27. Rocky road is SO good! I want to make these THIS WEEKEND!

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    1. Let me know if you do! The next version I make is going to have nuts in it.

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  28. I'd love to see someone bring you a bouquet of pencils as thanks for these great brownies,

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    1. Wouldn't that be fabulous? So far the only person who's handed me a pencil is my trusty stage manager.

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  29. What a great treat for the cast! Can I come? These look delicious!

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  30. Best of luck with your rehearsals! I bet they'll love the brownies, if they don't you can always send one to me!

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    1. That would be quite a trip for a brownie, though an interesting science experiment to see if it would survive!

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  31. This is a great way to start cooperating with the cast! You make them feel more cozy and familiar with you! It is easier this way to just pass your point of view! Great brownies!

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  32. I love that movie. And I love your brownies. I'd love to eat your brownies while watching that movie. *grins*

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  33. I'm certain these decadent goodies thrilled the cast! They certainly thrill me :) Hope Day 1 of rehearsals went swimmingly~

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  34. These look wonderful and what a sweet idea for your cast members. How cool! Kepp us updated on how the play is going.

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  35. I'd forgotten about that line. Didn't Nora have some of the best movie lines ever in her films. I'm really excited for you with On Golden Pond. I hope you enjoy the process but yes, there will be drama! xx

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  36. Oh boy I'd be deeply in trouble with this delicious goodies!

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