January 14, 2014

Weekend Bake / Fudgey Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Naaman and I are taking parenting lessons from the French. Do we know any French people? No. But I have come across some fascinating French parenting books which we have been devouring lately. And when I say French parenting books I mean American parents who firsthand have observed French parents with their children and asked them a million "what would you do" questions and received satisfying answers. They really have a completely different view of parenting and what children are capable of doing and understanding. My latest revelation is that there is no such thing as the "terrible twos" in France. According to French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting, the author Catherine Crawford, had to explain the concept of the "terrible twos" to her French friends. One friends reply was, "Really? You have this with your children? I have never heard of this condition." The French may not have the answer to every question, but from the books I have been reading, they seem to handle parenting a lot better than us Anglophones.
One of the things that we are adopting from the French is letting Jude bake on a weekly basis. The French have a tradition of letting their children bake from a very early age. They don't just mess about in the flour, they crack eggs and make simple desserts all on their own. But there's more to it than just having a lot of cake and sweets to eat. Letting a child bake on their own is a big big lesson in patience and self-control, something that we have been having a hard time instilling in Jude. The kid has to measure out the ingredients, mix them together in the proper order and then sit and wait until the cake is done baking. The French then take this a step further by not eating it as soon as it comes out of the oven. French families more or less, follow a similar eating schedule which includes, for the kids only, a goûter - (pronounced gootay) the afternoon snack, which is served around 4 pm, coincidentally when French school gets out.  So after a child goes through the whole process of baking a sweet, they watch their mother puts it away on the counter and has to wait until 4 o'clock to actually eat it. Furthermore, mom says when they've had enough.

It's amazing to me that such a simple project can teach a child so much. And if done on a weekly basis, with goûter on a daily basis, I can see how it will have a real impact on the child. I wonder though if the French sought out to do this in the first place, or if it was a part of their culture that ended up having a positive impact on their kids. Whichever it is, I think it is brilliant. Jude had a really good time mixing these brownies, and I (surprisingly) wasn't tense about getting everything right. Probably because I am adopting another French quality, for myself, being more calm about the little things. Jude was rather proud of cracking the eggs by himself but asked me to mix up the batter when it got too stiff. He's even adjusting to the fact that we didn't eat the brownies immediately. We remind him that he can have his goûter at four zero zero, and he calms down after that. Knowing that there is going to be a sweet at some time during the day is reward in itself.
I will post a weekly update on what we bake together, or let him bake on his own. Hopefully I will be able to find enough uncomplicated recipes for Jude to have fun with. I'll also post updates on how we "Frenchify" our lives in attempt to have a happier, or dare I say, a pleasurable parenting experience. Lately I've been wanting to pull all my hair out with Jude's purposeful disobedience and over-all craziness. I am determined to banish the "terrible twos" from this house!
These brownies were delicious and really rich by the way. Try them out with your kids or by yourself. I found the recipe on Pinterest, from this website.  xo Yana.
Fudgey Chocolate Chunk Brownies
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  3. Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix in the baking soda.
  4. Mix in the chocolate chunks with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  5. Once the batter forms (it will be thick), scrape it into the prepared dish and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, until brownies begin to pull away from the side of the pan.
  7. Serves 9-12.

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