What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Berry nut brownies for your valentines
Special to the Tribune
Say hello to Valentine’s Day, which has a connection to romance that goes back centuries. Lovers exchanged flowers, greeting cards and chocolates. As the author of a book on chocolate and a veteran intuitive for a few “psychic” networks, I know too well how this popular day and chocolate affects peoples’ minds and bodies.
I remember how a few Valentine’s Days ago played out for me. I woke up at 6 a.m., sipped a cup of coffee and prepared for my hour telephone interview on KSFO in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was my job to talk about the link of romance and chocolate, and I munched on gourmet chocolates and fudge brownies sent to me from chocolatiers around the nation. It was bliss, almost as heavenly as swimming in a snow flurry at one of our resort pools.
There are so many types of brownies, including cream cheese brownies and blondies or butterscotch brownies. Some folks will tell you brownies were invented by a lady named Brownie and other people will tell you they derived from scones of Scotland. No matter. These cake-like bars are loved around the world.
I recall when I was young and in love, I made a homemade double-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I placed red “I Wuv You” fuzzy creature decorations on top of the dark chocolate icing. It was meant for my valentine. At night, when he arrived at my bungalow in San Carlos, I got a shocking awakening like a major earthquake. My mate did not like chocolate. So, I was left with a whole chocolate cake which I ate, chunk by chunk, for a week.
Lover’s Berry Nut Brownie Chunks
1⁄4 cup lemon-flavored olive oil
1/4 cup European-style butter
1⁄4 cup water
1 organic brown egg
1 package store-bought dark chocolate premium brownie mix
1/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour (at high altitude)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, sliced
1/2 cup cranberries, dried
Use a heart-shaped baking pan (available at most grocery stores), and lightly grease with flavored olive oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, butter, water, and egg. Add brownie mix and flour, stir till smooth. Follow directions per brownie mix for oil and water. These may differ. Fold in chips, nuts and berries. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. Do not over-bake or these brownies will be hard as ice instead of chewy. While warm from the oven, sprinkle top with sugar. Serve from pan. Cut into rustic chunks (not the traditional perfect squares) and pair with fresh strawberries. Makes about 16.
If you check out the nutritional label on the brownie mix, these days it reads “no trans fat” (the stuff that isn’t heart healthy). Also, dark chocolate and nuts are good fatty foods, too, in moderation. The flavor and texture of sweet chips, crunchy nuts, and chewy berries are sweet and natural.
This year, I admit my anti-chocolate valentine broke my heart and we parted ways. On the upside, I’m happily single and nurturing the lonely hearts as I hear the tales of woe and unrequited love this week — and on Valentine’s Day. I will be surrounded by my three fur children, my valentines. I’ll let the Aussie pup, Skye, run on the treadmill, curl up with my senior canine, Simon, who will be chewing on his favorite bone, and get a blue collar for Zen, my blue-eyed dog-like loving Siamese-mix kitty. And I will munch on a brownie chunk or two for a boost of feel-good energy to get me through the phone calls.
Motto: Think outside of the box and create your own valentines for your loved ones and give yourself the gift of self love.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Orey’s new book is The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, second edition. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.