Sunday Afternoons & Nutella Brownies

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by Abby Dodge on March 7, 2011

Growing up, Sunday afternoons were reserved for baking and cooking at my Mom’s side. During the week, Mom would scour the woman’s magazines and tear out recipes for me to test drive on Sunday afternoons while she prepared the evening’s meal for me and my big brothers + girlfriends du jour and company. Mom and I would pick one or maybe two recipes to tackle and then she let me go to town. Honestly, over the course of those years, I made it all ~ everything from fudgy brownies to éclairs to Floating Island (yes.. poached meringue + crème anglaise + caramel drizzle) and it was all from scratch.

Now, I don’t want anyone thinking that I was some sort of protégé here. I was just a little girl following recipe directions with my Mom peaking over my shoulder and lending a hand when needed. These were magical culinary and childhood moments. I felt free.. free to make a mess.. to taste as I went along.. to not add nuts or raisins even if the recipe called for them (I didn’t like nuts or raisins back then).. to laugh out loud along with my Mom when I dropped an egg and the dog would lick it up (gross).. to like or not like the finished product. I felt empowered. I was honored that my Mom thought I could ‘handle’ a grown-up recipe and that it would be good enough to serve to the family.

The bottom line was that even if it tasted like cardboard or looked like crap  the dessert was served and everyone – even stinky older brothers – said it was wondrous. Free ~ Empowered ~ Honored. What a gift my mother gave me with those Sunday afternoons in her kitchen. She’s been gone a good long while now and, sadly, she never got to see me pack up and move to Paris or my first food feature or cookbook or cover recipe on Bon Appetit and Fine Cooking. Yet, no matter how many years have passed, I will always remember my time by her side whipping the meringues, poaching them in milk ~ long before I had any idea what any of those things were~ and tasting the “vanilla custard”, as I called it then, truly believing that nothing could ever taste any better…. I still think so. Her wisdom and graceful, quiet way was certainly the secret ingredient that made each recipe a wonder and it continues to do so.

While I know she’d be proud of my work, she’d be even more proud that her baking tradition continues with my own kids (just ask Tierney about the Chocolate Mousse fiasco and the laughs we had or ask Alex about the amazing meal he cooked up during the big black out) as well as with one of my gorgeous goddaughters, Izzy. I call it Sunday Afternoons in the Kitchen with YOU. Someday, I’ll write a book by the same name and fill it with recipes that I made as a child and as an adult with my kiddlings but, for now, I’ll happily watch Iz and my other goddaughter Tory as they learn to bake from scratch using my recipes and those of my friends and colleagues.

One edition of  “Afternoons”, Izzy wanted to try Nutella Fudge Brownies from my new book Desserts 4 Today.  Like the many bloggers out there who kindly took notice of these little gems, Iz made her own choices with these recipes and really made them her own. She ‘switched-in’ mini choco chips for the hazelnuts (she loves nuts but liked the extra chocolate thing even more – can’t blame her for that!) in the Nutella Brownies – GO IZZY!

Here’s me and Izzy.. with Birthday party nail polish on!

Iz working hard..

Using a mini scoop — very serious stuff going on here..

And  you really must check out  Iz LIVE and talking fashion with Victoria Beckham… Yes, THAT Victoria Beckham.. Wait.. What? Iz’s thinking of turning her back on the culinary world??

If you have young folk anywhere in your life, I encourage you to bake with them in any way, shape or form that works for you, your time and your budget. Just do it. You also must read my friend Kim’s posts on her gorgeous blog The Yummy Mummy about baking with her kids. And check out my talented pal Jennifer Perillo’s blog – she’s another mom who rocks the kitchen with her kids. Kim,  Jennifer and I agree that kids of all ages should be allowed.. no.. encouraged to step in “Culinary Mud Puddles”. We all do it differently…what’s important is that we do it for and with our kiddlings.

With a grateful heart, I thank all of the generous, warm food bloggers for their D4T support and lending their ‘take’ on my funny, little 4-ingredient brownies. You guys have rocked my world. Thank you! Please check out my blog faves for all of this cool folks who love, laugh and baked in their inspired kitchens.

Here’s hoping you end every day sweetly
~AJD