When I was a little girl, let’s say from around 8 onwards, I began a quest. A very important quest.
I had to make the perfect brownie.
Why I NEEDED to make the perfect brownie
My best friend’s mum fed me brownies every time I came over, along with hot cinnamon scrolls. I think I can at least partly blame her for my chubbier childhood years.
Anyway, my ultimate goal was to recreate Mrs Smith’s gooey brownies with caramel.
They were perfect. Best still warm from the oven, drizzled with caramel, and icing sugar on top. But still amazing for days afterwards if they ever lasted that long (which was never, obviously).
I wanted to eat one every day, but since I couldn’t just move in with my best friend’s mum, that meant I had to figure out a solution. I had to learn how to make them myself.
My brownie experiments/disasters
So I got out all my mum’s recipe books and began trying brownie recipes. At one point in the school holidays, I think I did 1-2 brownies a week. But I wasn’t having much success. Sometimes I’d follow the EXACT same recipe twice and get totally different results.
Too sloppy (was it even cooked?)
Too hard (aka burnt)
Not even remotely chocolatey enough
… and my best disaster of all. I managed to crack/melt a pyrex dish because no one had taught me (yet) that you had to STIR chocolate between microwaving it. So instead of melting the chocolate, I melted glass. Oops.
Anyway, I persisted. And managed to make some pretty good brownies. But I never quite got close enough.
Mrs Smith's secret...
And then one day it occurred to me… why not ask Mrs Smith for the recipe? That’s when I discovered her secret. They were from a packet mix!
* face palm *
(A packet mix which I still, to this day, cannot seem to find anywhere at the shops.)
For the record - I soon realised that nearly ALL of Mrs Smith's amazing cooking came from packet mixes. Cinnamon scrolls, jello bars, and other such things that are heaven to a small child.
And how else could this superwoman keep it up? She legit baked one or two things every day to feed kids, neighbours, youth groups, and more - in between managing a house and all the extracurriculars. Ain't nobody got time for recipes!
So with no suitable packet mixes and no foolproof brownie recipe, I was on my own. Quest incomplete. FAIL! Sorta...
Fast-forward to today: I still haven’t quite managed to figure out the perfect brownie. I don’t obsess over it as much these days, although I’d like to think I’ll one day crack the code (maybe when I become a grandma and baking sweets is my primary responsibility).
BUT I have come pretty close. My secret is…
Two packets of Aldi’s brownie mix. Put half the mixture on the bottom of the baking pan, then spread a tin of top 'n fill over it. Then put the other half of the mixture on top. Bake until it’s just cooked through.
It’s not quite the perfect brownie, but it’s pretty close, especially if you get the consistency right.
And even though I haven’t quite got there yet, I’m pretty good at brownies. Certainly better than most. And all my years of practice mean I’m also pretty good at chocolate chip cookies, muffins, cakes, and other such delicious morsels.
Life lessons from my brownie quest
So even though this story doesn’t have a perfectly happy ending and a perfect recipe to share with you (I wish!) it has some pretty good lessons.
- Practice won’t always make perfect, but persistence will get you pretty close.
- Experiment with how you do things to try and keep improving.
- Setting a high goal won’t mean you’ll necessarily achieve it, but it will mean you’ll achieve lots of other good things along the way (aim for the stars, land on the moon kinda thing).
- Asking for help from a mentor can save you a lot of time!
- It’s okay to use a hack/cheat if it gets you better/quicker results (so head to the packet mix aisle!).
I’m not chasing brownies too hard these days (although I still love them) and my goals are a little different, but I’m just as determined and persistent as I was at 8.
These days, I’m pursuing big goals in my business to support my family. I’ve learned a lot in the last few years and I’m getting closer to my version of the perfect life/biz recipe every day (although the occasional disaster still throws off my day).
I’m off now to munch on a packet mix brownie and keep writing (for real!), so whatever YOUR quest, I wish you every success!
P.S. If you have the perfect brownie recipe, please post it here in the comments, I BEG YOU.