Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate on the Brain

I decided to make some brownies on Saturday night. I don't bother making them from scratch because I get great results using a mix. I like Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate brownies because they do what brownies are supposed to do — make your eyes pop wide open during the first bite from their intense  flavor and satisfyingly fudge-like texture. And they aren't cloyingly sugary. I switched from my tried-and-true Betty Crocker mix after tasting them just once.

So I reached down into my baking cabinet and pulled out one of three boxes of Ghirardelli mix that I'd stockpiled over the past few months. Three boxes of anything is a stockpile around here — our kitchen is remarkably small.

The first box turned out to be Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Muffin Mix.

"Weird!" I thought. I never buy muffin mixes; I make muffins from scratch. I didn't even know Ghirardelli made muffin mix. And while the two boxes look similar, I would have thought that my brain, of all brains, was hard-wired to differentiate brownies from muffins in a fraction of a second. Brownies mean a lot to me.

I pulled out the second box. Muffin mix.

And quickly reached for the third box: more muffin mix.

So I had three boxes of muffin mix, which I never buy, and no brownie mix. Somehow I had managed to choose the wrong item on three different trips to the grocery store. Three times I put muffin mix in my basket, and then put it on the belt at the cashier, and stood there, next to it, oblivious. What's wrong with me?

Maybe I'm seriously on autopilot when I go food shopping — but I don't think so. I have to be very sharp while hunting down the five or six flavors of Fancy Feast that our cats will eat, among the dozens of similar fish flavors they offer. If I can tell three varieties of Fancy Feast tuna apart, I should also know a brownie from a muffin.

I decided that I am not losing my marbles, so this had to be Fate. It had to be the Chocolate Fairies (I wonder why they don't call themselves "brownies"?) steering me relentlessly to try a New Good Thing. So I made muffins. I needed 12 of those foil liners. I had 13. Fate.

I can report that Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Muffins are fantastic: rich and moist, with eye-popping chocolate intensity. They are possibly better than brownies because they seem more wholesome, although they are not. (A brownie is dessert; a muffin is breakfast food....) So it's very easy to eat two muffins in one sitting before you realize what you just did. We've both done it twice. Oops.

I still have two more packages. But I can't wait to see what I bring home from Shaw's the next time I go there to pick up some brownie mix.

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