A few years ago, my parents celebrated a big anniversary. Since they had eloped way back then, my siblings and I decided this time we should have a party. However, no one wanted to have a sit-down formal affair, especially my casual-living parents. After much discussion, we decided on a backyard barbecue in my parents huge and beautiful yard. My dad had just finished building a patio with a huge new grill and he volunteered to grill, well, anything that he could get his hands on. You know what it’s like when you have a new toy.
My aunt proposed a pot-luck, but that seemed a little too casual. Our solution was to invite the guests, but also invite them to participate in a contest — best appetizer and best dessert. To enter, bring your favorite dessert or appetizer along with the recipe. We put the plates out on buffet tables and in front of each offering, we put a jar. People voted by putting money in the jars.
This was a massive success.
Everyone brought food, and many people brought entries into both categories. So, so much food. Though, I did notice a lot more entries in the dessert category, which speaks to the genetic origin of my sweet tooth. And it was all so good. At the end, the winners were announced — a peach cobbler in the best desserts category, and a smoked salmon spread for best appetizer. We handed out prizes. We raised $200 for a local animal shelter with the voting proceeds. My sister and I gathered up all the recipes and added them to our ongoing collection of family recipes.
Tonight, I’m in the mood to cook something sweet, so I’m scanning the recipes from the anniversary contest for ideas. I’m pretty sure I have all the ingredients for Kahlua Brown Sugar Brownies. This recipe, a strong contender, was submitted by my dad’s friend, a retired judge who makes the best baked goods I’ve ever had.
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. Kahlua
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. Kahlua
½ lb. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp. hot strong coffee
Melt butter, mix with brown sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla, ¼ cup Kahlua. Separately combine flour, cocoa, baking powder. Mix into sugar. Add and stir in walnuts. Pour into greased/floured 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven, brush top with 2 tbsp. Kahlua.
Frosting directions: Cream 3 tbsp. butter, add powdered sugar, cocoa, Kahlua, coffee. Mix until blended/smooth. Add sugar or coffee as needed. Frost cool brownies.