Posts Tagged ‘Brownies with Peach Jam’

Love and Chocolate

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Chocolates at Erving Station (Courtesy of Erving Station)

Cartoonist Charles M. Schultz is often quoted as saying, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” At this time of year, most of us selfishly want to receive both love and chocolate. And we unselfishly want to give both to others.

Laura DiLuzio runs Erving Station on Main Street in Erving, Massachusetts, with her mother, Donna Christenson. The colorful shop (my sister-in-law refers to it as “the pink place”) is a candy store so things are getting busy there right now.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. I have 100,00 things to do,” DiLuzio told me last week in a telephone interview. “Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter are the three biggest chocolate times.”

She noted that February 14 is an appropriate time of year for celebrating chocolate. “January is slow in Chocolate Land because people are going on diets, but by February people are ready to come in and get some chocolate,” she said.

Asked about the origins of the perceived link between chocolate and romance, DiLuzio explained that the link, like chocolate itself, is native to the Americas. “The Aztecs believed that the substances in chocolate would make you more open to romance,” she observed.

Romance and chocolate continued to be associated over the centuries, and that association bloomed in the Victorian age. “The Victorians were all about romance and love,” stated DiLuzio.

I wondered aloud whether she herself craved chocolate for Valentine’s Day, or whether being in the chocolate business had jaded her.

“Everyone loves to get chocolate on Valentine’s Day, even candy-store people,” she informed me firmly. “It’s luxurious. And the sweetness just pulls everyone in.”

She and her mother have had fun designing special Valentine gifts for their customers, including sleeves of candies that combine peanut butter and jelly flavors, Valentine’s Day “platters,” and Valentine pretzel rods with festive sprinkles.

Despite having all of these goodies at hand, DiLuzio’s daughter Vivienne, the official “manager of taste testing” at Erving Station, makes her own chocolate Valentine gifts, the proud mother told me.

“She’ll make everyone an individual chocolate bark with all the inclusions that she’ll know that they like. She puts [the gift] in a plain white box, and she draws a picture on each person’s creation,” said DiLuzio.

If you’re looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift, visit Erving Station soon. Or stop in at one of our other local chocolate emporia, Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield or Mo’s Fudge Factor in Shelburne Falls.

To be sure that you’ll get the chocolate gift you want, it’s a good idea to call ahead and reserve what you’re looking for. Mo’s Fudge Factor even offers online ordering for convenience.

In case you get to Valentine’s Day with no chocolate gifts on hand, I am sharing one of my own favorite chocolate recipes below, for “Just Peachy” Chocolate Brownies. These super fudgy concoctions topped with swirls of peach jam make a welcome gift.

You may actually use any jam you like. I developed the recipe for my rhubarb cookbook so obviously I started with rhubarb jam. I don’t have any rhubarb jam in the house right now, but I found some peach jam left from last summer in my refrigerator so I adapted my formula.

The adaptation was a winner. The peach flavor isn’t pronounced, but it’s there. And the jam adds to the overall moisture and decadence of the brownies.

Don’t forget to bake with love. Happy Valentine’s Day.

“Just Peachy” Brownies

 Ingredients:

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) sweet butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa (I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup flour
6 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips
1/4 cup (more or less) peach jam, preferably homemade

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of an 8-inch-square pan. For extra security, you may want to line the pan with non-stick aluminum foil and grease the bottom of that. (The foil will make it easy to remove the brownies from the pan.)

In a 2-quart saucepan over low heat melt the butter. Add the sugar, and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat briefly—until hot but not bubbling—and stir it to help melt the sugar. (The mixture will become shiny looking as you stir it.)

Remove the pan from the heat, and let it cool briefly while you assemble the other ingredients.

Stir in the cocoa, the salt, the baking powder, and the vanilla. Add the eggs, beating until smooth; then stir in the flour and the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Drop little bits of jam around the top of the batter so that each brownie square will get a little jam; then swirl the jam bits around the surface of the batter just a bit with a knife.

Bake the brownies until they solidify (30 to 35 minutes). Remove them from the oven. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving them. Makes about 16 brownies, depending on how large you cut them.