I was maybe 10 years old the first time I experienced a blizzard. My mom and I were flying back from our annual mother-daughter skiing trip in Aspen, Colorado, when our flight was unexpectedly grounded in Cleveland. Outside, the snow was coming down at a rapid clip and winds had it swirling so fast that you couldn’t see more than a foot in front of you — if that.
The airline provided a night in a hotel and dinner for everyone stranded. Taxis shuttled passengers together to the nearby airport hotel, driving slowly and cautiously, while trying to calm our frazzled nerves. We ended up sharing a room with a teenager who was traveling alone so that she didn’t have to be, well, alone. Another passenger traveling alone joined us for dinner.
Being stranded in a strange city during a blizzard is a humbling situation, but there’s comradery in times like that. People you might not otherwise know — like the Detroit-area teen flying home alone after vacationing with her father and the hotel staff who calmly helped hundreds of stranded people have a good night — come together to get through it. I remember laughing that night, as we made the most of a challenging situation.
I saw that same comradery during the blizzard this week. As the snow slowed and the wind calmed somewhat, neighbors came together to dig out cars, give helpful pushes to dislodge stuck vehicles and to clear porches. Neighborhood kids grabbed shovels and pitched in too. And slowly, certainly, we emerged from our cocoons.
The next morning, my Facebook feed was filled with thank yous — ones directed at snowplow drivers who helped clear near mailboxes and in spots unexpected. Ones directed at neighbors, public works employees and other helpers too. In our own complex, I am grateful to our plow driver who spent a lot of time on the night of the blizzard not just clearing the center of our driveway, but waiting for all the cars to be freed so that the whole driveway could be plowed.
It was nice to see.
Thinking back to that blizzard also makes me remember those fun annual mother-daughter trips my mom and I took. There was a little cafe, Bonnie’s, about halfway down Aspen Mountain that we always made a point to stop at for big, rich, moist brownies covered with nuts.
Remembering those brownies inspired me to bake some on the morning after the blizzard. These cakey brownies are stuffed with flavor from sweet marshmallows, meaty pecans and rich chocolate chips.
To make these, you start by melting chocolate and butter together. Then sugar, eggs and vanilla extract are whisked together before adding flour and salt. Finally, the buttery chocolate mixture is combined with the sugary egg mixture.
Then you mix in more chocolate (in chip form) along with nuts and marshmallows. Once the batter is all spread into your pan, you top the brownies with more of these ingredients for rocky road perfection.
This makes a big pan of rich brownies that both look impressive and taste great. Perfect for sharing, these are a great way to say thank you to those who help out when you need a hand. Maybe I’ll even drop some off for my neighbors.
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips, plus ¼ cup, divided
- ½ cup mini marshmallows, plus 1 cup, divided
- ½ cup chopped pecans, plus ½ cup, divided
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small saucepan, melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter, stirring constantly until fully combined. Remove from the burner and let cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the flour and salt and stir well until combined. Drizzle the chocolate mixture in, a little at a time, stirring constantly until combined. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips, ½ cup mini marshmallows and ½ cup chopped pecans.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, taking care to evenly distribute it. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips, marshmallows and pecans.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out cleanly.
- Let cool slightly before cutting into squares.