Thank You Brownies

“Make him those brownies!”

I was having lunch with Chefs James Clark and Bill Hartley.  We were discussing exciting news.

I originally met the guys in their positions as executive chef and executive sous at the Crossroads Carolina.  Each time I went, they stuffed me like a Christmas goose with their expertly prepared food.

They’d recently left the Carolina Inn to open their own place, in Pittsboro.  It’s to be a fish house called Postal Fish Company.  And due to planned twice weekly trips to the coast, the freshest, most sustainable seafood this side of the ocean will be served.  The projected opening date is Fall 2017.

postal fish

We’ve sat down a couple of times, to discuss those plans.

The first time we met was for breakfast.  Since every time I visited the Carolina they fed me, I decided that turnabout is fair play.  So I baked them some treats.

It was a new version of my jacked-up brownies.  I’d come up with them when I made them for a couple of my old high school friends with whom I meet for monthly lunches.

They’d been such a big hit I thought Chefs Bill and James might enjoy them.  The funny thing is, they couldn’t be easier—it starts with a box.

Appreciation Brownies

thank you brownies

1 9X13 box fudge brownies (I usually use Duncan Hines)

2 eggs

2/3 cup + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

¼ cup hot water mixed with 1 tablespoon espresso powder

¼ cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12-ounce bag mini semisweet chocolate chips

1-1.69 ounce bag plain M & M’s

Topping:

1-1.69 ounce bag plain M& M’s (two bags total)

¾ cup salted pretzel pieces

1 teaspoon large flaky sea salt (like Maldon salt)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9X13 baking pan, line with parchment paper, and grease as well.

In a large bowl, mix first 6 ingredients.  Put in mini chips, and stir vigorously, scraping the bottom of bowl to make sure they’re fully mixed.  Fold in one bag M & M’s.  Pour into pan, and spread batter with spatula so that it’s flat and level.

Sprinkle top with second bag of M & M’s and pretzel pieces.  Place in oven on middle rack and bake for 13 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle Maldon salt evenly over the top of brownies.  Return to oven and bake for 13 more minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on kitchen counter and/or fridge until fully cool.  Using the parchment paper, lift out brownies and cut into 12-16 pieces.

I think Chefs James and Bill liked them.

Last week we met again; this time for lunch at an amazing place in Chapel Hill called Sandwich.

Everything is homemade, with a menu loaded with sandwiches, salads, and polenta bowls.  They make potato chips from scratch.  And their freshly cut fries are as good as Al’s at the state fair.

While we were eating, I told the guys that our neighbor had repaired the AC in our jeep.  I was crazy grateful, and couldn’t even guess how much money he had saved us.  I wanted to do something to thank him, but I wasn’t sure what to do.  Did they have any ideas?

Their recommendation is where we came in.

While I was out walking the dog yesterday, I ran into my neighbor.  He, his wife, and all his in-laws loved the brownies.  So I guess they’ve become my official thank you gift.

Great suggestion, Chef James and Bill; I’m grateful.

Thanks for your time.

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