The food: butterscotch brownies
Though I haven’t – yet! – written a truly food-centric novel, good food is featured in all my fiction. In Looks Perfect, the love interest of the main character owns a gourmet food shop. In Old Flames, a careerist character is shown to have gone perilously off track when she bakes an apple pie, from scratch (!). In The Glenwood Treasure, the love interest of the main character (uh-oh, already repeating myself, or shall I say, establishing my trademark themes – yeah, that sounds much better) is a would-be pastry chef. In The Restoration of Emily, the son of the main character has celiac disease and must follow a gluten-free diet. In my soon-to-be-published And Everything Nice, a climactic scene takes place over dinner in a high-end restaurant. And I even worked food into “A Taste of Honey”, the story I contributed to the Toronto Noir anthology.
More recently, when I was working on a YA story about two multiracial teens in contemporary Toronto, it amused me to use food as subtextual symbol: one character drinks chocolate milk, the other lattes, and I brought them together as a couple when one invites the other over for butterscotch brownies.
After writing about butterscotch brownies – a chewy, sweet treat that I think of as a comfort food from my youth – I was compelled to make some, according to the recipe I’ve always used, from the 1964 edition of The Joy of Cooking, reprinted below. They’re easily made – in a saucepan, with no electric mixer required! – and though quite thin and light in volume, easy to love, too.
Butterscotch Brownies from The Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt in a saucepan: 1/4 cup butter
Stir into it until dissolved: 1 cup brown sugar
Cool these ingredients slightly. Beat in well: 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla
Sift, then measure: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Resift it with: 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt
Stir these ingredients into the butter mixture.
Add: 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
Pour batter into a greased 9 x 9-inch pan.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Cut into bars when cool.