Back in elementary school Valentine’s Day was awesome.
Mum would always take my brothers and I to the store to go pick out our Valentine’s Day cards. I remember buying lots with The Little Mermaid, Care Bears, even Spongebob Squarepants. My brothers would always go for the Hot Wheels, GI Joe and NFL cards. We would go home and Mum would give each of us a list of our classmates and we’d address each card. And each card already had a witty little phrase on it so there was literally no thinking involved. Then Mum would help us stick a piece of candy to each and we’d have our bag ready to take the next day.
At school on Valentine’s Day we would each make our own little mailbox out of paper and cardboard, decorate it with stickers and glitter and then line them all up in a row along the wall. Then we’d get about ten minutes to distribute all our Valentines and then would have to sit anxiously until the end of the day and we could tear through all our new ‘mail’ and take home all the candy. It was like trick or treating on Halloween without even having to leave your house. We always came home with the biggest stash of sweets, of little conversation hearts and heart shaped lollipops. Sometimes one of the moms in the class would go all out and give us something great like heart shaped chocolate covered marshmallows.
Even more important than the candy though, were the cards. After school my friends and I used to sort through the cards looking for ones from the boys we liked. Then we’d try and suss out what they meant. For example, one year when the boy I had a crush on gave me a card with Aladdin and Jasmine on it that said ‘You’ve set my heart soaring Valentine!’ we figured he had clearly picked out that card specifically for me and that we would be married the next day in class and live happily ever after in our Barbie mansion.
After the end of that year, and the realization that I was still not living in a Barbie mansion, Valentine’s Days started to suck pretty hard. Middle school, high school, no one wants to deal with trying to find a Valentine when their mouth is full of wires and their hair seems to stick out in all directions no matter what they do to it.
Even though I do enjoy it now, I still don’t know what the point of Valentine’s Day is. If you’re in a relationship you should be able to surprise the other all the time to show him or her you love them and if you’re not in a relationship it’s a silly reminder of when you were sitting at home in your Little Mermaid nightie looking up at a poster of Heath Ledger wondering when he would come sing a romantic song for you at your high school and then take you paintballing.
I’m not trying to diss Valentine’s Day; I know Ciaran and I will have an amazing time, especially now that I’ve left all the planning to him. But it will also continue to be a reminder of the day that I wasn’t invited to get married and go live in a Barbie mansion when I was 7. And that is a crushed dream that is very hard to live with.
Luckily, this outrageous brownie pudding is just the thing to soften my pain.
225g unsalted butter, plus little extra for buttering the dish
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Vanilla ice cream to serve with
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 quart (9 x 12) by 2 inch oval baking dish. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, lower the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, and cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out three quarters clean. The center will appear very under-baked, this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.
Allow to cool a little and serve with vanilla ice cream.