Thick, chewy, fudgy brownies with generous chocolate icing are enticing enough to have me eating these Lunch Lady Brownies for dinner.
(My chocolate-loving friend Joan would most definitely approve of that plan!) This recipe is one of hers that I have wanted to make for a while now.
Joan passed away unexpectedly last week and while crying and grieving at 2am, I decided to bake in memory of her. I spent the weekend making many of her favorites and then shared the sweets with friends.
Joan was passionate about her desserts and I imagine that she would have gotten a kick out of being remembered with an abundance of chocolate.
In a heart-wrenching coincidence, today is National Chocolate Day and the blogging world is reeling from the loss of our amazing friend.
To know Joan was to love her and laugh with her, she impacted countless lives every single day. In her memory, you will see much chocolate shared around the internet today.
My friends, surround yourself with people who bring you joy. Hug them tight. And eat some chocolate today too, #chocolateforjoan.
Lunch Lady Brownies – Chocolate for Joan
- 1 cup butter melted
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour *
- * Gluten Free Alternative:
- 1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/3 cup potato starch
- Frosting Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 baking pan or line with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, cocoa, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Whisk again until smooth. Add the flour and stir until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread the thick batter to the corners. Bake for 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
- While the brownies are baking, make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, the powdered sugar, the cocoa, and the salt. Beat with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes, until combined. It will be mostly dry crumbs. Add the milk and beat again for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
- Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool for just a few minutes. Gently spread the frosting over the brownies while they are still quite warm. Let cool before slicing. Enjoy!
It hurts, friends. It hurts so much. Losing a friend is never easy. It shouldn’t be. Friends impact our lives in countless ways, and really great friends take a piece of our heart with them when they are gone.
I’m a better person for having known Joan Hayes. She was a wonderful friend and she will not be forgotten.
There are so many memories. The time Joan ordered ALL THE FOODS on the Snooze menu because she couldn’t narrow it down and wanted to at least taste everything. The times she refused to eat a subpar dessert because it wasn’t worth the calories.
The countless times she laughed and said that fruit isn’t dessert, chocolate is the only real dessert. Laughing as she confidently asked a chef if he was sure there wasn’t something fabulous hiding in the kitchen that wasn’t on the menu and then watching in amazement at the tray of chocolate desserts that were magically provided.
The night she said, “We should just stay up all night, we’re halfway there already.” Seven hours later, with blurry eyes and an aching side from hours and hours of laughter, we dropped her off at the airport.
Joan was a master at making every moment of life the best it could possibly be.
We walked up and down the beach in St. Thomas, talking about our kids, and dreams for the next few years, and the crazy world of blogging. Joan called this past year her “year of travel.”
She met online friends in person and made countless new friends and memories. I’m happy that so many of us were able to hug the neck of our sweet friend and get to know her in person this year, as well as online.
The last time I saw her was in Georgia while I was visiting my family there. She drove up to Augusta, over 3 hours each way, just so that we could spend a few hours together. Not because “I” was important, but because relationships were important to her.
Joan loved spending time with friends and family and she lived her life to the fullest. She was one of the least pretentious, friendliest, and absolutely real people I’ve ever known.
Wandering around Augusta, GA together, we browsed antique stores looking for old silverware. Later we found a bakery to try.
She sweet talked the staff into pulling cakes out of the cold case so she could photograph them by the window and remember them to re-create the recipes at home.
Ordering a slice of every single dessert in that bakery, so she could taste each one. Laughing as we packed and took home two shopping bags full of the remaining desserts to share with my family.
Joan was an indescribably generous person. She achieved great success professionally and she shared her knowledge, her phenomenal social media reach, her blog’s traffic, every aspect of her success was shared with others.
She believed with every bit of her heart that blogging should be part of a community and never a competition. She helped everyone she met and made everyone’s life better just by knowing her.
Joan was the most prepared for death person I have ever known. She wanted to know that her children would be taken care of no matter what. She told everyone to “put it in writing” and “make sure everyone knows your intentions.”
It breaks my heart that her message to BE PREPARED turned out to be such practical advice instead of the hypothetical wisdom I would much rather it have been.
Her family was her world and she loved her kids so much that I ache for them right now. Joan’s love of life, family, and chocolate was evident through her blog, Chocolate, Chocolate, and More.
She created a chocolate filled legacy for her family and they plan to carry out her dreams and plans. Her dream was that her blog would help support her family over the coming years.
While you are baking this holiday season, please think of Joan’s blog. There are hundreds of recipes for wonderful sweets on her blog; cakes, cookies, candy, and so much more.
Bloggers earn their income from the number of people that visit their websites. The more we visit her blog, the more income we can help send to her family in the end.
Joan died of a massive heart attack in the middle of the night. She was only 49 years old. She mentioned a stomach ache before going to sleep, not recognizing that this is one of the signs of a possible impending event. (Many women think they are getting the flu prior to a heart attack.) Please read through these Heart Attack Symptoms and always get checked out if you experience any of these and share them with your friends and family.
Most importantly, go now and hug someone special to you, kids, spouse, friend, anyone. No matter what, just do it.
Wake them up, pick them up, get their attention, and tell them you love them. I’m heartsick for the loss of my friend and reminded once again that life is short.
“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
A full list of blog posts dedicated to Joan can be found here.