A year ago I lost a best friend. I lost my dad.
Thinking about it now it's hard to believe that a year has gone by. Most times it's hard to accept it has been a year since I've seen him. I've been dreading this "anniversary" knowing it just brings me one day further away from when I was last with him.
Cancer, as it turns out, cares nothing for how old you are, what important things and people you have in your life; the plans you've made. Cancer doesn't discriminate. My dad had 5 short months after his diagnosis. He was just 53 with a wife, two kids, and two beautiful, young grandchildren-my boys- just 3 and 1 at the time.
Nothing can prepare you for devastating news. Nothing can prepare you as you watch someone physically become someone you no longer recognize. But we got through it. We always, no matter how desperate, held onto hope. We focused on good days. We focused on the boys...the everyday norm that can be so easily taken for granted. We kept our eyes set on better times ahead just to get through the really difficult days. We realized, in the end, better times meant no more fighting, no more pain, only peace.
We never talked about the past in a "What if?" scenario. We never laid out regrets. There was no point.
We bonded as we always had. As a child of divorce, time with my dad was always "fun time". Time we spent to stay up late to hang out, eat junk food, watch movies, and talk about life-without judgement. This time never ended; not when I got married, not when I had kids. The only thing that changed was that he came to me.
As my love for baking grew, we bonded more and more over food. He was my biggest cheerleader.
To honor my dad, after this year, I've created a brownie with some of his favorite snack foods, and his weekend beverage of choice-beer. As I use these ingredients, I envision him at his bar, popping some peanuts in his mouth as he cranks up the tunes. I see him munching on his Butter Braid pretzels while watching a race or a game.
It's how I'll always remember him. Joining him in his favorite things while I spent quality time with the first man to ever hold my heart.
I love you, Dad. I miss you more than ever. These are for you.
makes 16 brownies
- 1 1/4 c. butter pretzels, fine crumb
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 c. salted peanut, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Use a food processor to get pretzels to a fine crumb, like a graham cracker crumb texture. In a small bowl, combine pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press down evenly into your prepared pan.
Hand chop or pulse peanuts in food processor until they are smaller pieces, not dust. Sprinkle over crust, and lightly press down. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Use your favorite brownie mix and prepare as directed on the box. I used regular brownie mix, not "Family Size"
Evenly pour brownie batter over slightly baked pretzel crust. Gently spread and work into corners as needed.
Return to oven, bake according to box instructions. I baked mine for 34 minutes.
- 9 oz. milk chocolate
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp. beer*
- 1 c. chocolate covered potato chips, chopped* (optional)
While brownies bake, place chocolate and heavy cream in a heat-safe bowl, and place over simmering water. Let chocolate and heavy cream sit for 3 minutes without touching. Remove from heat and whisk until chocolate is smooth and shiny. For a less strong beer flavor, add beer now and whisk. For a stronger flavor, add right before brownies are removed from oven, about 20 minutes or so later, whisk until chocolate is smooth.
* I used a dark, stout beer. It seems to pair nicely with chocolate. Normally I would use dark chocolate, but given the saltier nature of this brownie, I needed something sweeter.
* I coated Lays Wavy Potato Chips with Merckens Dark Candy Coating Chocolate. This step is optional if you want to do it, it adds a little extra "pizzazz" to the finished look.
Once brownies are removed from oven, evenly pour chocolate ganache over the top, using an offset spatula as needed. Place on a wire rack and let cool for an hour and top with chocolate covered potato chips. Cool completely before cutting.
These brownies are unique/special just like I wanted them to be! Salty, sweet, smooth, crunchy, and gooey. I noticed an initial beer flavor when I bit into them. I would say these are some "manly" brownies, and something to keep in mind for a tailgating party!