Typically I am not a joiner, especially when it comes to work-related social events. I enjoy sharing lunch with my teammates, chatting with colleagues at professional development meetings, and exchanging rants over the error-prone copier in the workroom. But I usually avoid work parties and Secret Santa and the like. They’re just not for me and my introverted self. So I surprised myself by signing up for the Secret Valentine exchange at work earlier this month. Graduate school has me rather stressed, so perhaps it was a moment of sleep-deprived whimsy. When I drew my secret valentine, though, I was rather excited because I would get to surprise Jenny, our school receptionist. She beautifully handles a job I could never have. She is the one person standing between irate parents and the rest of us. She is kind but firm. I would cry.
On her secret valentine profile, Jenny wrote in the food section that she likes dark chocolate, peppermints, peanuts, and coffee. Immediately I thought of the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Brownies that I had seen on the Girl versus Dough blog around Christmastime. These brownies would incorporate three of Jenny’s four favorites in one go. Plus, they would count towards my February chocolate cooking challenge. I picked up the ingredients for the brownies that very day.
I followed the recipe directions exactly, and soon I was rewarded with a beautiful pan of brownies that smelled ridiculously good.
I made the brownies on a work night, so I hurried along the final stages of brownie making in which the chocolate mocha brownies are transformed into peppermint-topped ones. I did not take as much care as I could have when drizzling on the dark chocolate at the end, so my brownies often had globs rather than decorative streaks of chocolate running across their tops. I wasn’t too worried; I just knew they were going to be delicious no matter what the topping looked like. The only deviation I made from the recipe was that I used soft peppermint candies rather than hard peppermints, mainly because I knew the leftover soft candies would happily be eaten by my husband.
While the dark chocolate topping was still slightly soft, my husband and I ate a brownie apiece. They truly were as amazing as promised on Stephanie’s blog. She and I apparently share not only a first name but also the exact same taste in brownies–fudgy and chewy, if you please. I gave them 5 stars. John was slightly less enthusiastic, as neither dark chocolate nor chocolate-and-mint are his favorite flavors, but he still gave them 4 stars. I wrapped up a plate of the brownies and couldn’t wait to surreptitiously deliver them to Jenny the next day. I knew the brownies were a hit when she oohed and aahed about them on Facebook that night. Maybe I can be a joiner after all.