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How to make chocolate brownies and not compromise

Some years ago when I was a pastor, I walked into my church office after a Sunday morning service to find a sandwich bag on my desk containing three chocolate brownies. Some thoughtful and anonymous saint who knew my love for chocolate had placed them there,along with a piece of paper that had a short story written on it. immediately sat down and began eating the first brownie as I read the following story:

Cholocate BrowniesTwo teenagers asked their father if they could go the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the internet, he denied their request.

'Aw dad, why not?' they complained. 'It's rated PG-13, and we're both older than thirteen!' Dad replied: 'Because that movie contains nudity, unfaithfulness, adultery and portrays immorality, which is something that God hates, as being normal and acceptable behavior.'

'But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That's what our friends who've seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It's based on a true story, and good triumphs over evil,and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the Christian movie review websites say that!'

'My answer is 'no,' and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight,invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion.'

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch.As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing some-thing in the kitchen. They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, 'Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he's going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all.'

About that time I began eating the second brownie from the sandwich bag and wondered if there was some connection to the brownies I was eating and the brownies in the story. I kept reading...

The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then their father said, 'Before you eat,I want to tell you something: I love you both so much.'

The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening. 'That is why I've made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I've made them from scratch.Most of the ingredients are even organic. The best organic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic sugar. Premium vanilla and chocolate.' The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad's long speech.

'But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own backyard. But you needn't worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think.' 'Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?' 'Why? The portion I added was so small. Just a teaspoon ful. You won't even taste it.' 'Come on, dad, just tell us what that ingredient is.''Don't worry! Itis organic, just like the other ingredients.' 'Dad!' 'Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic...dog poop.'

I immediately stopped chewing that second brownie and I spit it out into the wastebasket by my desk I continued reading, now fearful of the paragraphs that still remained.

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror. 'DAD!Why did you do that? You've tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can't eat these brownies!' 'Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won't hurt you. It's been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won't even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!' 'No,Dad...NEVER!'

'And that is the same reason I won't allow you to go watch that movie.You won't tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, sohow can we in good conscience entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?'

I discarded what remained of the second brownie as well as the entire untouched third brownie. What had been irresistible a minute ago had become detestable. And only because of the very slim chance that what I was eating was slightly polluted.(Surely it wasn't...but I couldn't convince myself.)

What a good lesson about purity! Why do we tolerate any sin? On the day of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every bit of leaven from their homes. Sin is like leaven - a little bit leavens the whole lump (1Cor. 5:6).Jesus, 'our Passover' (1 Cor. 5:7), and sin, don't mix.

'Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet.'

Ingredients


185g unsalted butter
185g best dark chocolate
85g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
275 g golden caster sugar


Method

Cut 185g unsalted butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break 185g best dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Now remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.

While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4 (most ovens take 10-15 minutes to heat up). Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base. Now tip 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so they run through together and you get rid of any lumps.

With a large sharp knife, chop 50g white chocolate and 50g milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares.

Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is, so don't lose heart. You'll know it's ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you're there.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like - you don't want to undo all the work you did in step 4.

Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don't want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they're dotted throughout. Now your mixing is done and the oven can take over.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it's not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.

Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you're using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you're using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. These brownies are so addictive you'll want to make a second batch before the first is finished, but if you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it's useful to know that they'll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.

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