On sweet friends, talented artists and secret recipes

Secret family recipes often offer insight into the people they represent.

Take, for instance, The Maras Girl Brownie Recipe.

Sweet, deep, natural and smart, it includes a life-changing ingredient, natural high fat cocoa.

You’re welcome, America.

My friend Gina Maras, artist, athlete and mother of four, introduced me to this super food when she sent me a packet from Penzeys, along with a recipe card for the best brownies I’ve ever tasted.

Gina has made a habit of introducing me to some of the cooler things in life.

She once sent me a bottle of wine, which I liked so much I attempted to purchase another bottle, inspiring the following conversation at Flanagan’s Liquor:

Me: Do you sell Conundrum win?

Clerk: Yes, I believe we do. I’m just not sure where. Hey! Do you know where the Conundrum wine is?

Second Clerk: Well, I know we sell Conundrum. I’m just not sure where.

Clerk: Conundrum — California white, right? I saw it just the other day. I’m just can’t remember where.

Me: Is anyone else appreciating the irony of this situation?

Gina and her husband Guy are raising four intelligent, strong and beautiful girls who, thanks to Gina’s talent, will be immortalized in a gorgeous piece of art currently hanging on their living room wall.

I love the way it represents all of Gina’s greatest skills. You can see her high standards and attention to detail in the sketch-to-sculpture process. Her profound love of family permeates the piece, and their love bounces back. A visual artist, Gina created the sketches from a favorite photo she had taken of the girls, and worked with a metal art sculptor to complete the work.

I’ll never be able to create a piece of art like that. But, thanks to Gina’s generosity, I can bake a mean pan of brownies. And, now, you can too.


We’ve been friends with Guy and Gina for a very long time. All four of us went to Marquette, and Guy was one of Vince’s college roommates.
Here’s a great look at the process, including Gina’s sketches.
The sculptor’s sketch, which Gina made him do life-sized.
And, the finished piece hanging above the lovely girls it represents.
And, speaking of sweet things, one advantage of baking in an empty nest is that I did not have to share these delicious beaters.
Maras Girl Brownies Preheat over to 350 Grease 8×8 or 9×9 pan (I used a nine-inch round pan) Combine these ingredients: 1 stick butter, 2 jumbo eggs, 1 cup granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons high fat cocoa, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix together and add a handful of good chocolate chips. Put in pan and bake for 21 minutes. Note: The Maras Girls even have a remedy if you accidentally cook your brownies a little too long. Mix 1/4 cup melted chocolate  chips and 8 ounces of cream cheese with the dry brownies. Form into balls and dip into Baker’s Dipping Chocolate. Voila! Brownie pops!


One thought on “On sweet friends, talented artists and secret recipes

  1. Thanks for the fun blog and the recipe – I will try the brownies tonite!

    Michael P. Mazza
    Michael P. Mazza, LLC
    686 Crescent Blvd.
    Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-4281
    Tel: 630-858-5071
    Fax: 630-282-7123
    Email: mazza@mazzallc.com

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