With this post, we remember Andrew’s father, Gil, whose 85th birthday would have been today had he not been taken from us in March of this year. He was a very fine fellow, a great Father and Grandfather. A former Track and Field star in college, it's especially fitting to remember him during the London Olympic Games since he was a huge fan of the quadrennial event. One and all know him as “Gil” and there’s a wonderful story behind why. Andrew’s grandfather Bert, Gil’s father, was also Gilbert. However, he was quite the bon vivant and single. He would bring many a date out to visit Andrew’s family on the North Shore of Long Island while he lived in Murray Hill in New York. Andrew was one of 5 children and his father and mother married young. Bert may have been a doting grandfather but he passed himself off as Gil’s brother. Thus his lady friends never hung the label Grandfather on him. So Bert stayed Bert to every one of his grandchildren and the name stuck long after his happy re-marriage. When Gil himself became a grandfather, he carried on the family tradition and his grandchildren called him, not Granddad but Gil. Now, unbelievably to me having seen Andrew in action baking, apparently Gil did not have much of a sweet tooth but the one thing in the world that he could not resist were Butterscotch Brownies.
Flash forward to this spring when the Treats Truck parked itself on the Upper West Side. The Treats Truck is the love child of a woman named Kim Ima. It first required its owner to find a truck, learn how to drive it in the city, create ten different ways to bake brownies and finally, how to run a bakery on wheels. All the effort paid off and today the Treats Truck is literally chased down the street. I know this from personal experience because once Andrew discovered that the truck made a killer Butterscotch brownie--a gooey, pecan topped bite of decadence-- he dragged me all the way up Broadway for something like 25 blocks in search of Ms. Ima, who describes herself as Owner /Baker / Driver. Unfortunately, the truck was not to be found that day. But the next time Andrew did find it, he was determined that even if he didn’t have access to the truck, he’d buy the eponymous cookbook (William Morrow 2011). That way he could make its Pecan Butterscotch Brownies any time he wanted to.
I have to admit, having once baked a recipe I called “Suicidal Blondies”, I was hooked from the first taste. Brown sugar-y goodness in every bite, it’s made even more delicious when you top it with the cream-y goodness of a really premium French Vanilla ice cream. The only real regret about this particular treat is that we can’t share one with Andrew’s Dad. But we surely think of him every time Andrew makes them. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Pecan Butterscotch Brownies from The Treats Truck
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 by 9-inch pan (or double the recipe and use a 9 by 13-inch pan, which is what Andrew did).
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.
Add the brown sugar and stir.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.
Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Add the egg and vanilla and stir well.
Pour the batter into the pan.
Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top and pat them into place.
Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. They may look underdone, but they’ll be chewily delicious when cool. The version shown here is the Treat Truck's. Ours was smaller.