The weather here is wild. Cold and wet, muggy and moist, don't think about anything having to do with heat, dry weather or blazing sun because the sneaks and snatches you get will have to hold you over for one, two, five days before the next one. So tomatoes and peppers wait in windows, over a foot tall. Watermelon and squash starts are poking up, and tiny gnats flutter up from soil that never dries out.
I meanwhile, impulsively buy vintage sunglasses on Etsy.
And make meringue-topped brownies.
What. WHAT. The weather calls for it, and while i slowly build my retirement fund of Wayfarers I need distractions from all sorts of things that make me sick to think about, in good and bad ways. But not bad enough to not look forward to this summer, whenever it shows up. Last summer was humiliating and gross. I was sad and angry and convinced that if I talked about it to anyone besides my mom, sisters and one or two best friends I'd be Letting Them Win or being that person who won't get over it.
As a result, I didn't get over it, not for a long time, and so let me tell you this. Let me get really close to you on the street and put my uninvited hands on your virgin cheeks. Smell my breath as I husk this advice - if something happens, when that something happens that reaches in and beats you to a pulp emotionally in a way that hasn't ever happened before, because it is the perfect batch of Pigs Blood, just enough public humiliation and pain, surprise and betrayal to really color what would have otherwise been just a fine time, grieve it. It really is awful. Even if you don't want to grieve it publicly, grieve it privately. It hurts to be made a fool of. And it hurts to be hurt.
But you know what? It will evaporate just when you think you've got nothing left to give, to feed all those serious, sad feelings. You may still dislike the people involved, but THAT IS OKAY. You know? You can let go of the pain, but it is okay to look at people who smiled at you as they stabbed you then text messaged you at nine the next morning to make sure you really did lose your liver (true story) and think Bitch, you're solid CRAZY.
Even if the same thing happens this summer, and I'm hoping precautions will keep it from happening, OVER IT. This summer I'm harnessing Mr. High School Girls, Van and Peach Jeans' energy in 'Dazed and Confused'. I don't give a FUCK. Excuse my language, this will probably delete me from the lineup of potential babysitters hired to teach your children manners and decorum, but after last summer? Sun and brews. Some tight organic farmers market produce. A lot of gardening. Boring work things. I've got some sunglasses, though. We need to go places.
And why not fuel up with some brownies that will make people slide back from the table and cover their eyes. You've got a bittersweet, earthy cocoa brownie base (courtesy of Deb), topped with toasted almond slices and chocolate chunks (adapted from Martha) and peaky, soft-serve swirls of brown sugar meringue (lifted from AT: The Kitchn).
I cut a huge slab of these for photographic purposes, but don't do that unless you want to pass out in the street. And I would suggest playing around - cocoa nibs, ala Tartine's Rochers, or toffee bits in the meringue. A layer of thick salted caramel between meringue and brownie. Or swap the brown sugar for white, which would make more of a marshmallow topping. They're really wonderful, and they deserve to be made before fall hits us, all too soon.
Brown Sugar Meringue-Capped Brownies with Toasted Almonds and Chocolate Chunks
1 ¼ sticks butter
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons good/your favorite cocoa powder
½ cup AP flour
3 egg whites, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fine salt
½ cup semi/bittersweet chocolate chunks
¾ cup toasted, flaked almonds
Preheat your oven to 325 F, and grease (I just used PAM. It was that kind of day, but you can butter and cocoa, butter and flour, lard and talc your pan however you see fit) an 8x8, 9x9 or similarly sized rectangular or round pan. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, sugar and cocoa powder together. Or use a double boiler, proper or similar situation. Just melt it, then whisk until incorporated, and crack in the eggs, whisking well after each addition. Add the vanilla and salt, then the flour, and whisk in short, brisk circles until any lumps are broken up and the batter is smooth and thick. Pour, or dump the batter into your prepped pan and smooth. Bake for 15 minutes, until just set on top and around the edges.
Meanwhile, in a super-clean glass or metal bowl (not a speck of oil or other fat/grease can contaminate your bowl or beaters, otherwise the meringue won’t build in volume. This is one of those picky things that counts), whip your egg whites until just foamy. Add the salt and brown sugar, beating well until stiff, glossy peaks form – when rubbed between your fingertips, you shouldn’t be able to detect more than a grain or two of undissolved sugar.
Scatter the almonds across the par-baked brownies, and gently fold the chocolate chunks into the meringue. Then dump big lumps of it on top of the almonds, gently spreading and peaking it. Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes more, just until the meringue has expanded slightly and turned a dry golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with no liquid brownie butter on it.
Cool completely, around 45 minutes, then cut into dainty, shove-able squares.
Store in your stomach.