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.
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.
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.
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.
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.