But first a story about these brownies. We call them "The Brownies" also known as "Sand Art Brownies." About eight or nine years ago, Matt's uncle was diagnosed with cancer. He was...gosh I'm not sure how old/young. Barely 40's if that. They lived in Pennsylvania with no family nearby. The family consisted of my mother-in-law's sister, her hubby with cancer, and three precious (and precocious) boys. Matt liked to refer to them as "the wrecking crew." The boys were about 13, 10, and 6 or so.
Money got really really tight, and Blake got really really sick. It was not a good situation. Not at all. Things were so tight and stressful that we didn't think the Mom was going to get any chance to get Christmas stuff taken care of that year. Those boys needed to have a good Christmas with their dad...life had been tough enough!
I came up with the idea to sell some of those "mix-in-a-jar" things. This was before you could buy them at the store, when it was still a crafty craft. I found this recipe, and a few others, and off we went. I printed up order forms with the boys' pictures on it, and a little blurb about their story, and took it to work. Between Matt, his parents, and I we sold about 75 jar mixes. Then we had to make them. We had an assembly line set up all throughout the dining room and kitchen, and we got it done. We paid for all the ingedients so all the sales would be profit. It was a fun and exciting project! (I wish I knew where the pictures were).
After we got them all done, and had our near $700 in hand, we went shopping. My mother in law and I bought gifts gifts gifts. We had gifts to the boys from Santa (and put in the letter to the mom what those gifts were so she would know), we had gifts to the parents from the boys, we had gifts to the boys from the parents. We wrapped everything and three gigantic UPS boxes were on their way to Pennsylvania.
They had a wonderful Christmas.... it was the last one they had with their Dad. Although the parents knew what we did, I'm not sure the boys ever did. But I'm sure they cherish the memories of their holidays with their Dad.
We haven't seen the boys for years, though I do have two of the three on facebook. Everytime I make these brownies I think of them. I hope you enjoy the recipe.
Sand Art Brownies (see layering directions below)
In a large bowl; put 1/3 c. cocoa powder, 2/3 c. sugar, 1/2 c chocolate chips, 1/2 c vanilla chips, 2/3 c brown sugar, 1 c + 2 T flour, and 3/4 tsp salt.
Mix it up
To the dry mixture, add 1 tsp vanilla, 2/3 c. oil, and three large eggs.
Mix it up.
Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, or until they're done. You know when they're done, right? Let them cool a bit before diving in, they tend to fall apart if you get them while they're too warm. But ah the moist yummy goodness.....!
I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Sorry. Sometimes I like to ice mine with a chocolate icing, but I think that tends to dry them out sometimes, weirdly enough.
I usually just use 1 c of semisweet chips instead of any of the vanilla chips, because rarely do I have those on hand. They do however make the layering look nice and pretty.
Layer in a wide mouth quart sized jar in this order: cocoa powder, sugar, choc chips, vanilla chips, brown sugar, flour, salt. if you have room at the top you can put some walnuts. But who wants to ruin brownies with walnuts? If you think it is not packed tight enough, just throw in some more chips, or wad up a white napkin or something to go in the top. I can't remember if we needed the nuts to finish filling the jar or not.