Waiting for snow

Greetings from Ottawa—well actually Kanata, if I'm being honest. This morning, you'll find me wearing my favourite dark green wool sweater (the one with the huge wood buttons, for those in the know), wrapped in a crocheted throw, sitting on a friend's couch, one foot on Holly the cat's belly, the other tucked under me, one hand on a laptop, the other wrapped around a cup of Kafka's Kenyan brew (old habits die hard), one eye on the screen, the other staring out the window waiting for snow.

Earlier this week, R. and I cleared out our apartment: selling a few things on Craigslist, shopping our CDs around town, giving away our books and boxing up the rest. We scrubbed the empty space from top to bottom, shielding our eyes from the gleaming white and wondering why it never looked that way when we lived there. Then, after testing the echo and nearly forgetting our coats in the closet, we locked the door and wheeled our suitcases down the hall. It sounds sad, mostly because it was.

That was on Tuesday. Now it's Friday and we're in Ottawa, waiting for snow.

We've met up with old friends, including S. and K. of Kanata, and made a few new friends, including T., who is really into cars, the aforementioned Holly and her daughter Bart (yes, you read that right). Last night, while those last three slept, K. and I got to work in the kitchen, as we do, making peanut butter brownies. We started late, ended even later and spent the next hour contemplating ways to cool the pan faster. In the end, we gave up and ate them sans frosting, vowing to correct our oversight the next day.

On Monday, we'll be somewhere new. But for now we're in Ottawa, with brownies. And I think it just started snowing.

Peanut Butter Brownies

Chocolate layer:
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Peanut butter layer:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting (optional):
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 2/3 cups icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Begin by making the chocolate layer. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and melted butter. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

Next, prepare the peanut butter layer. In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter and melted butter. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth.

Spread half of the chocolate mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with all of the peanut butter mixture, followed by the rest of the chocolate mixture. You'll have three distinct layers. The original recipe called for marbling with a knife at this point, but I kind of like the three layers as they are. Your call.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the edges are set and the top has begun to crack. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting (not pictured), melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the icing sugar, salt, vanilla and enough milk to reach your desired consistency. Blend until smooth. Frost and eat!

Source: Adapted from an unknown source.