summer baking and why am i doing it?

In spite of the hot DC summer, the AC in our living room/kitchen is seldom on. We usually leave the balcony door open which keeps the air moving, plus Lilah seems to like hanging out by the screen door. It’s an ideal setting for libations, lounging, and TV watching; anything more can possibly send a trickle of sweat down ones back. And since the AC is not in use, my oven too has been ignored. Summer baking, unless done at night, just isn’t a very cooling idea. Summers are for ice creams in my opinion (side note: I ate ice cream twice a day while in India…glorious).

Devang was in town this past weekend with a request for some home made peanut butter brownies. I tried to wiggle my way out of it by giving the above stated reasons, but he just turned on the AC and sent me looking for my apron.

I love peanut butter. I eat it by the spoonful. But my obsession with it ends when it is included in baked goods. I don’t like peanut butter candies, cookies, cupcakes, and whatever else is manufactured from it. Ergo, a PB brownie recipe has never been part of my baking repertoire. Apparently my cook books also side with me in this matter. I went to the next best source, the Internet, and chose the recipe for Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies from Allrecipes.com. I tweaked it by adding half cup of chopped walnuts, 3/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (thanks Komal, I owe you a bag), and sprinkled some sweetened coconut flakes on top.

I wasn’t too optimistic about this one, but I must say that it turned out REALLY well. The coconut was nice and toasted on top adding a slight crunch. The bottom and sides were nice and golden. The middle was gooey with a frequent bite of walnut and choco chips. The taste of PB wasn’t overwhelming due to all the other added goodness. Beside being a good desert, this would make a great post run snack with a glass of cold milk. Dev and I also tried it with a small scope of ice cream; best to eat thusly when fresh out of the oven and still crumbly.

I took what was left to Neel’s for dinner. He critiqued them by saying “they taste like something an old woman would bake in the afternoon”. I was assured that this was a complement.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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