We bite into the brownies, and they are out of this world. All of us are thoroughly impressed. J summarizes it with his catch phrase: “They’re like butter.” His eyes reveal a yearning: he wants to unlock the ancient secret of the brownie. It doesn’t take long before he asks for R’s special recipe. Visions of JN’s granola recipe come to mind. (Aside: JN, I made granola bars using your recipe a few weeks ago!)
R emphasizes the recipe is less important than the technique, but J insists that R write down the recipe with every detail and nuance clearly stated. R says that might be difficult with his handwriting and asks J for a sheet of paper. J brings out a half sheet of paper so that R may reveal the ancient secret. J hands R his Go board to stabilize his writing. R positions the half sheet at the center of the Go board. He has apparently committed the recipe to memory. Oral tradition? Three of us watch as R writes and J interrogates.
“So first you want to make sure the chocolate is between 60 and 70 percent,” R explains.
J nods his head and then asks seriously, “Ghirardelli?”
“Ghirardelli is fine, but just make sure it’s not any more than 70 percent.”
The writing continues, and more details are added. More chocolate. (“Ghirardelli?” J asks again.) Butter should be at room temperature. Wooden spoons turn evil once flour is put into the mix. Some items should be measured with a “big spoon.”
“What’s a ‘big spoon’?” M asks. It turns out it’s just a tablespoon.
R continues. “Now let’s talk about the walnuts,” he says.
“Blue Diamond?” asks J. M responds with laughter, and I join the chorus. A few minutes later, the recipe writing winds down to its conclusion.
J starts beaming. “I am going to make brownies this week!” He smiles at me, nodding his head with a look of victory at having acquired R’s trade secret.
“Could you write your name on top of the recipe, so we can tell our kids it was courtesy of Uncle R?” M requests. R obliges. After a follow-up request, he autographs the recipe, too.
J seems impressed that R is willing to part with the secret so easily. “So who taught you the recipe?”
“Oh, I just found it in some recipe book,” R responds. The ending is perfect, and the room bursts into laughter.