Intro

Cocoa brownies with salted peanut butter frosting.
In one more sleep my baby turns 5. Five. . . I don’t even know what to say. In my head I’m still a squirrley little teenager trying to figure this life out, all that it has to offer and how I’m suppose to navigate my way through. The reality is I have an almost five year old and an almost 3 year old and an almost 8 month old. And I’m almost 30 (well,10 months). I thought I would feel more qualified for this mothering position by now.
People try to prepare you for life after children. Strangers in the grocery store will urge you to cherish these days as they speed by. Parents of grown children will encourage you to lighten up. And sweet old ladies with perfectly wrinkled skin that marks the years of wisdom like the rings on a tree stump, will stop you in order to gaze into your young children’s eyes so they can, if just for a moment, be reminded of these precious days.
I try to keep that perspective. That this season of constant need and incessant screams of wants and whining is merely a phase and there will be days where I will lovingly long for the sweet snuggle of a pudgey little kidlet. I just know I will miss these days of always being needed as I help my son pack up his belongings as he prepares to start life on his own, never looking back, forgetting to call his mama…  and now I’m crying.
What I wasn’t prepared for was what my children teach me. It was my intention to mold them, instruct them and guide them but I had no idea they would be doing that very thing to me.
These lessons are akin to a dental visit. They are annoying, at times painful, marked with relentless shrills like a dental drill, uncomfortable and revealing but through the process you walk away glad you did it. You’re shinier and rid of a lot of gunk that was causing cavities and pain Sometimes you even get a little prize for all your hard work. Floss, perhaps, or maybe even a sticker.
My oldest, Baron, teaches me the most. He is the most like me of the three, so far, so he will often reveal to me the things that often drive me crazy about myself. He tends to view the world with gray goggles. Walking around his life with a chip on his shoulder and feeling as if the world is against him. He reminds me of my need to simply change my attitude which is a mantra that I repeat to him often.
But my Baron is also the sweetest little almost-five-year-old I have ever met. He still shrieks with delight at the sight of sister baby. Running to give her hugs and kisses if she even thinks to let out a less-than-happy moan. He is impossibly creative. Dreaming up new ideas, inventions and characters with the naive passion that it can be done, it will be done and we must do it right now.
Baron longs to lead. Insisting that he will be the teacher of our school and I am the one who will sit up straight and listen. He will tell me how the day will go down and passionately revolts when I remind him who is in charge. Baron is opinionated and an artist in every sense of the word. He is strong, relentless and compassionate. And just like his mama, he loves chocolate.
So Baron, I made you cocoa brownies with a salted peanut butter frosting. And yes, I will carefully scrape the frosting off because for some reason, although you love peanut butter sandwiches, you want your brownies frosting-less.
I adore you Baron and treasure each of the one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five days I have had the pleasure of knowing you. I look forward to thousands more. Happy 5 years.
Cocoa Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from Alice Medrich
Makes 16 brownies
Alice Medrich is pure brilliance. Her recipes have always worked for me. I only tweaked this one slightly. I decreased the amount of sugar knowing that I was going to top these rich brownies with a sweet frosting. I didn’t miss the sugar one bit.
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Prepare an 8 inch square pan by spraying with pan spray. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Spray the foil or parchment with pan spray.
Preheat your oven to 325*.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a heat-proof bowl and place over a large pot of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should rest in the pot but not touch the water.
Stir occasionally. When the butter is just about melted, remove the bowl and let the residual heat continue to melt the butter. Stir until smooth. Carefully touch the cocoa mixture. It should feel warm, not hot. If hot, wait until warm to add the eggs.
Once the cocoa mixture is warm you can stir in the eggs, one at a time. Wait until each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next. Stir in the vanilla. Once the mixture looks cohesive and shiny stir in the flour. Alice says to stir 40 times after the flour has been completely incorporated. I listen to her. :)
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up with a few moist crumbs. This will take about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, frost with peanut butter frosting and sprinkle with flake salt (Maldon) or Fleur de Sel.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Dahlia Bakery, in Seattle, is the home of my favorite cookie. It’s peanut butter cookie sandwich. The center is a creamy peanut butter filling that reminds me of the peanut butter and butter sandwiches my mom used to make me. Peanut butter and butter are the perfect pair.
Lately I can’t get enough of this frosting. I’ve mixed it into ice cream and filled donuts with it. These brownies are my current favorite application.
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) softened butter
¾ cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt – (I love the added saltiness mixed into the frosting as well as on top. For this I use kosher salt)
1 teaspoon Maldon (This is my favorite. It is a lovely flake salt with a smooth saltiness not the harshness you find if when you taste table salt straight up).
Cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the Maldon
all over.
5685527058_8b88002e0e_b

In one more sleep my baby turns 5. Five. . . I don’t even know what to say. In my head I’m still a squirrley little teenager trying to figure this life out, all that it has to offer and how I’m suppose to navigate my way through. The reality is I have an almost five year old and an almost 3 year old and an almost 8 month old. And I’m almost 30 (well,10 months). I thought I would feel more qualified for this mothering position by now.

201235_10150116782698107_500708106_6705108_1712657_o

People try to prepare you for life after children. Strangers in the grocery store will urge you to cherish these days as they speed by. Parents of grown children will encourage you to lighten up. And sweet old ladies with perfectly wrinkled skin that marks the years of wisdom like the rings on a tree stump, will stop you in order to gaze into your young children’s eyes so they can, if just for a moment, be reminded of these precious days.

5685516588_3dfd09657c_b

I try to keep that perspective. That this season of constant need and incessant screams of wants and whining is merely a phase and there will be days where I will lovingly long for the sweet snuggle of a pudgey little kidlet. I just know I will miss these days of always being needed as I help my son pack up his belongings as he prepares to start life on his own, never looking back, forgetting to call his mama…  and now I’m crying.

18337_244476018106_500708106_3454676_3733674_n

Baron, 3 years old

What I wasn’t prepared for was what my children teach me. It was my intention to mold them, instruct them and guide them but I had no idea they would be doing that very thing to me.

5684946725_2f083122e0_b (1)

These lessons are akin to a dental visit. They are annoying, at times painful, marked with relentless shrills like a dental drill, uncomfortable and revealing but through the process you walk away glad you did it. You’re shinier and rid of a lot of gunk that was causing cavities and pain Sometimes you even get a little prize for all your hard work. Floss, perhaps, or maybe even a sticker.

67477_445984328106_500708106_5583187_6790084_n (1)

My oldest, Baron, teaches me the most. He is the most like me of the three, so far, so he will often reveal to me the things that often drive me crazy about myself. He tends to view the world with gray goggles. Walking around his life with a chip on his shoulder and feeling as if the world is against him. He reminds me of my need to simply change my attitude which is a mantra that I repeat to him often.

5684946657_969ae7d78c_b

But my Baron is also the sweetest little almost-five-year-old I have ever met. He still shrieks with delight at the sight of sister baby. Running to give her hugs and kisses if she even thinks to let out a less-than-happy moan. He is impossibly creative. Dreaming up new ideas, inventions and characters with the naive passion that it can be done, it will be done and we must do it right now.

5684946303_eb98f8bfe6_b

Baron longs to lead. Insisting that he will be the teacher of our school and I am the one who will sit up straight and listen. He will tell me how the day will go down and passionately revolts when I remind him who is in charge. Baron is opinionated and an artist in every sense of the word. He is strong, relentless and compassionate. And just like his mama, he loves chocolate.

5685516468_185f6fd21c_b

So Baron, I made you cocoa brownies with a salted peanut butter frosting. And yes, I will carefully scrape the frosting off because for some reason, although you love peanut butter sandwiches, you want your brownies frosting-less.

I adore you Baron and treasure each of the one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five days I have had the pleasure of knowing you. I look forward to thousands more. Happy 5 years.

continue for the recipe…

Cocoa Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

adapted from Alice Medrich

Makes 16 brownies

Alice Medrich is pure brilliance. Her recipes have always worked for me. I only tweaked this one slightly. I decreased the amount of sugar knowing that I was going to top these rich brownies with a sweet frosting. I didn’t miss the sugar one bit.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cold large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Prepare an 8 inch square pan by spraying with pan spray. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Spray the foil or parchment with pan spray.

Preheat your oven to 325*.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a heat-proof bowl and place over a large pot of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should rest in the pot but not touch the water.

Stir occasionally. When the butter is just about melted, remove the bowl and let the residual heat continue to melt the butter. Stir until smooth. Carefully touch the cocoa mixture. It should feel warm, not hot. If hot, wait until warm to add the eggs.

Once the cocoa mixture is warm you can stir in the eggs, one at a time. Wait until each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next. Stir in the vanilla. Once the mixture looks cohesive and shiny stir in the flour. Alice says to stir 40 times after the flour has been completely incorporated. I listen to her. :)

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up with a few moist crumbs. This will take about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, frost with peanut butter frosting and sprinkle with flake salt (Maldon) or Fleur De Sel.

5684946163_7599cc8d56_b

Peanut Butter Frosting

Dahlia Bakery, in Seattle, is the home of my favorite cookie. It’s peanut butter cookie sandwich. The center is a creamy peanut butter filling that reminds me of the peanut butter and butter sandwiches my mom used to make me. Peanut butter and butter are the perfect pair.

Lately I can’t get enough of this frosting. I’ve mixed it into ice cream and filled donuts with it. These brownies are my current favorite application.

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) softened butter

¾ cup peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

pinch salt – (I love the added saltiness mixed into the frosting as well as on top. For this I use kosher salt)

1 teaspoon Maldon (This is my favorite. It is a lovely flake salt with a smooth saltiness not the harshness you find if when you taste table salt straight up).

Cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the Maldon all over.

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92 Responses to “cocoa brownie with salted peanut butter frosting”

  1. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    What a lovely ode to your son on his birthday… thoughtful, honest, beautiful. And these “sophisticated” brownies… perfection for the little ones, while simultaneously bringing out the kid in all of us.

    Reply
  2. snippets of thyme

    This just made my day. This post is so sweet. Just know I am 40-ish today and I am one of those mammas who is smiling at your wee ones in the store saying “Yes, it will move into teen-hood” and you’ll crave those morning snuggles. I even miss Barney on TV! However, that said, teens are wonderful. Yes. They definitely teach me about myself every single day.

    Reply
  3. danielle

    i just teared up and i don’t even have kids…yet. this is so incredibly sweet and such a wonderful gift to your son as he grows. and may i just say that he is absolutely beautiful. way to go mama!

    Reply
  4. jas

    oh, this is just the sweetest little post to your son on his birthday! As an honorary aunt to my best friends little man, I can say that I am missing the days of watching him grow up and he’s not anywhere close to grown up! It’s the little things in life that make it worthwhile though – though megawhat smiles from your boy, his words of wisdom (my mum used to right my words down if they were complete pearlers!) and snuggles… if you’re lucky you young boy will grow into a young man, like my brother, who still loves to give his Mum, Dad and sister a big hug – those moments will also be cherished, when he’s out of home, living with a new ‘family’ of sorts, just 23. Still, though, he will always love his Mum – remember that.

    Reply
  5. Stephanie S

    I have no children of my own, but I can definitely say I cherish every single moment I spend with any one of my friends’ kids. I know it’s different being the special Auntie and not the parent, but the things you’ve written about make me understand my friends as parents much more. Thank you for the sweets, both edible and adorable.

    Reply
  6. Anne Marie

    Sigh. It is all so bittersweet, huh? I feel the same way as you and I have a really sweet, super ornery 4.5 yr old and a wily, crazy 21 month old. And my older one is not keen on frosting on his brownies either.

    Reply
  7. sara

    so sweet. Can’t wait til Baron is old enough to understand how special this little tribute is.

    Reply
  8. Ana

    As a nanny, this is a joy to read. Your absolute love for your children shines through your post, and it as also incredibly well written. It made me happy to know there are kids in this world with parents who are willing to grow with them.
    Also, the brownies look sooo delicious.
    Thank you for posting this.

    Reply
  9. jaime {sophistimom}

    That first picture of your little ones tugged at my heart the moment I scrolled down.

    I thank God that I still have “the sweet snuggle of a pudgey little kidlet”—at least for a few more months. My youngest is 5, and probably my last, despite the hopes of my 7-year-old the Santa will bring her a baby sister this year. I keep telling her I have to actually be married to have another, and even then . . .

    But your words had me longing to be a better, more mindful mom, and—amidst the chaos of our lives right now—a mom who slows down just a little more.

    Thank you, Ashley, and Happy Birthday to your frostingless brownie loving guy.

    Reply
  10. Isabelle

    Such a beautiful and heartfelt post. I hope that someday (a very far away day, mind you, in a very distant future), a grownup Baron will read this and be as touched as the rest of us are.
    Hopefully by then he’ll also have developed an appreciation for icing on his brownies, because that peanut butter frosting sounds ridiculously good. :)

    Reply
  11. Sarah @livelovexercise

    All I can truly say is that this made me want to have children and feel the true admiration that you do for your children. There needs to be more moms like you!!
    The brownies also look delicious and I might just have to make a batch!!! Thank you for the beautiful words, it was a joy to read!

    Reply
  12. Dana

    Such sweetness Ashley. He will treasure reading this someday. And what a big and gorgeous boy you have there. Very happy birthday to him and congratulations to you.

    Reply
  13. Candice

    awww…such a wonderful post about your son. Your pictures of him (and those brownies) are gorgeous! I hope he has a wonderful birthday!

    Reply
  14. Brenda

    My eyes definitely got watery by the end. What a precious, precious boy! Happy Birthday Baron. Ashley, you have been blessed with beautiful children.

    Reply
  15. joey

    really sweet post! lucky boy to have a mama like you (he’ll realise it himself someday). and lucky you to have a beautiful family to love and to indulge chocolate and salt obsessions with. hope you all have a lovely day tomorrow!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      I am blown away by all of your wonderful comments. You have made this mama so joyful. You, dear readers, continue to exceed my expectations and encourage me more than you will ever know. The face that you all take the time to see and read this hear blog is so intensely wonderful. I thank you and my 5 year old thanks you. What a gift for him to someday be able to read all of your sweet words. Maybe it will remind him to call his mama. Grown-up Baron, if you are reading this, call me. I love you.

      Reply
  16. Danielle

    The just keep growing, and some days I’m just not sure how to cope! Other days I get so excited for my daughters (three and one) to experience new things as they get older. I hope your little (big) one has a wonderful birthday. And I am going to make these brownies for Shabbat this week. They look incredible, and I can just taste that little bit of salt.

    Reply
  17. MG Atwood

    So sweet and thoughtful. Loving son, lovely mama. Now when I look in the mirror, I will feel like a giant sequoia instead of an aging woman. Thanks for this. Happy birthday Baron!

    Reply
  18. Michelle

    I might be crying. maybe. you have such beautiful kids and a wonderful attitude to match. Dear, just dear.

    I made these exact same brownies last night. Delightful!

    Reply
  19. Julie

    this is wonderful. Love to you all today! Enjoy your adventures and a sunny day! Happy Birthday Baron!

    Reply
  20. Elizabeth

    My 1st turned 1 last week. So, I’m sure you can understand why I’m wiping away tears (on a packed commuter train no less!) as I read your lovely post about your oldest. You’ve reminded me that I wanted to write her a letter about her 1st year, so thank you. And, she has a wicked sweet tooth already, so these brownies are on my to-do list come the weekend. Your children are beautiful!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Elizabeth, Such a sweet idea. I always had that intention too. Now they have my blog to look back through which has been the first time in my life where I have continually kept a journal. I hope someday they will enjoy reading through it has much I as enjoy creating it. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  21. molly

    i love everything about this post. the caring insights on the eldest, the honest reflections on parenting, and the brownies (oh, the brownies!). with frosting, please.

    Reply
  22. Cindy

    Beautiful, captures the essence of motherhood, and brought tears to my eyes.

    Reply
  23. Kasey

    Ashley! Precious. It is so sweet and tender to read about your feelings for your son. I’m not a mother yet, but your post makes me so look forward to it. xo

    Reply
  24. yummy supper

    I am new to your blog and am happy I found it. Beautiful and tasty at the same time! I’ll definitely be coming back.
    -Erin

    Reply
  25. Christine

    happy birthday to Byron! :) you have absolutely gorgeous children :)

    those brownies look amazing.. peanut butter and chocolate go together soo well :)

    Reply
  26. Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic

    Beautiful. I too look at my precious daughter – almost *4* – as a mix of my self, my abilities as a mother, touches of my adored-husband’s features, and her very own-ness. Parenthood is so amazing.

    As are these brownies, by the looks of it …

    Reply
  27. Katia

    This is such a sweet post, brought a tear to my eye. I can’t make this peanutbutter icing! I too love Maldon salt – it makes such a difference using good quality products. Thank you for your wonderful blog, you inspire me to continue blogging!
    Katia
    http://www.katiasfoodblog.blogspot.com

    Reply
  28. merry jennifer

    Happy birthday to your son! Congratulations to you, as well – because mothers deserve to be recognized on the birthdays of their children, too. Being a mother is an amazing thing, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy this weekend with your babies. :)

    Reply
  29. cheryl

    My youngest is twice the age of your oldest, and time truly does whiz by. All the adages older women say to younger moms sound silly at the time, but you’re right to listen: there’s wisdom there in those wrinkles and lines. In your honor (and Baron’s, too) I shall log off the computer now and go plant a kiss squarely in the center of my 10-year-old’s forehead.

    Have a lovely mother’s day.

    Reply
  30. Nikki

    I wanted to let you know that I quoted you on my facebook page, the “it must be done, it can be, and it will be… right now!” part. I’d love to use it as an example of how I feel sometimes, let me know If I can quote it on my website! (which is still getting started, its right in the pre-concept area, where I’m creating my first post in my head, but not quite sentences yet.
    keep cooking!
    Nikki
    StripeySocksSansSandwiches

    Reply
  31. Shef

    Just came across your site from a camp blogaway attendee. Your post was so heartfelt and reminded me of a similar post I wrote, more about my mom and how I feel about being a mom. I love the salted frosting idea!!

    Reply

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