Posted: July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


You’ve heard it before….
In life, nothing can be said to be certain except…DEATH and TAXES.

Lets take taxes for instance. The first few years in the beauty industry I got an education on taxes and the cash nature of the business. People weren’t getting their hair done to try to earn points for their next vacation. They only paid cash, and salons only accepted cash. On a day-to-day basis, the amount of cash flowing in was almost insane. You have to understand, back in the day, instead of meeting at Starbucks and buying $5 lattes, people would meet up at the salon on a regular basis. The coffee and bagels were free, but they would pay a shitload to have several services done just to hang out and chat all day with their friends. It truly was “The Place To Be.” It was fun, it was cool, it was edgy…

At the end if the week, as a stylist, you could easily go home with huge wads of cash. At some point I started looking for ways to get rid of all of it.

Want new clothes? Why not…CASH
Want a new car? Why not….CASH
Want to go on vacation? Why not….CASH

Cha-Ching!!! Cha-Ching!!!

The cash was flowing in faster than I could spend it!
Actually, come to think of it, even the clients were trying to spend their cash.

Apparently we were all looking for ways of leaving Uncle Sam off our shopping lists. (For people in other countries, Uncle Sam is our tax collector.)
After many years of that cash insanity, times began to change and people began to spend more than they made. Using credit cards to pay for services became the norm.

The days of dodging taxes were over!

This leads me to share a story about my client Judy. Judy was in charge of the finances at a local high school. In perfect school form, she was a loyal client that was never tardy for her 5:00pm Friday appointment for years. Needless to say, Judy was quite the scholar on creative accounting. She always was gave me great advise on paying my taxes and all of the inventive ways to spend my money and report my income. She always said to me, “Joseph, there are two things in life you can’t avoid, death and taxes”.

Which takes me to the second part of this blog….Death
The relationship between Judy and I grew over the years. She sharing her tax wisdom, and I making her look beautiful. She truly felt no-one else could do her hair the way I did. She bragged to all of her friends about me and continually put me on a pedestal. She absolutely would not allow any other stylist to touch her hair.

Here is where “you can’t make this shit up” comes in,

On this particular day, when Judy came in for her appointment, while telling me how much she appreciated how I styled her hair, she popped the question!!!

Not the question you may be thinking….

She asked me to do her hair for her funeral….AND SHE WAS DEAD SERIOUS…no pun intended!!!

I think I turned colder than a corpse at this point…I lost all color, my lips turned blue and my heart stopped… I was speechless…I wasn’t quite trained to work on a dead person. But she was serious and I needed a way out of this… Comic relief was where my brain took me… (Is that wrong?)

Sooooo, I asked her if for the next 3 weeks I could practice just doing the FRONT of her hair!!

She, I and every other hairdresser around me broke out laughing…

Judy and I ultimately came to that “death and taxes” realization. Judy eventually passed away and eventually had to pay my taxes. I know if Judy was around today she would have enjoyed this blog. She was an amazing woman; always great to me and it was an honor to have known her.

So to pay tribute to death and taxes, and the incredible sweetness of Judy
I am leaving you with today’s recipe:

Death by Chocolate


2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 recipe Decadent Brownie, room temperature, recipe follows
1 recipe Chocolate Pudding, room temperature, recipe follows
5 (1.4-ounce) bars chocolate covered toffee

Decadent Brownies:
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, plus more, softened, for pan
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Pudding:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk, divided

Special equipment: 1 (12 to 16 cup) glass trifle bowl or 12 to 16 individual small trifle bowls

Whip the cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Whip in the almond extract and confectioners’sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over whip, the cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

When completely cool, use your hands to crumble the brownies into smaller pieces. In a glass trifle bowl, layer in the following order: crumbled brownies, about 1 1/2 cups pudding, 1 1/2 crumbled toffee bars, about 1 3/4 cups whipped cream. Repeat the layers in the same order. Save the last 2 toffee bars to crumble and sprinkle on top before serving.

For individual small trifle bowls, layer in the following order: crumbled brownie, pudding, crushed chocolate covered toffee bars and whipped cream.

Garnish with more crumbled toffee bars. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Decadent Brownies:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

For your brownie batter, melt your butter in a medium (or large) heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.

While the butter is melting, whisk your natural cocoa powder, sea salt and sugar in a separate bowl. (The sugar and salt will work as abrasive agents to get any lumps out of the cocoa.) Whisk the cocoa/sugar/salt combo into the melted butter. Continue to whisk the ingredients together in the bowl over the simmering water until the sugar has dissolved fully. The mixture should look like fudge and pull away from the bowl into a ball. Remove from the heat and set on a dishtowel on your counter, and allow the fudgy mixture to cool down until it’s warm, but not hot anymore.

While that is cooling, line the bottom and sides of your 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil. You want to leave about 4 inches of overhang on the 2 opposite sides. These serve as your handles to remove the brownies from the pan in 1 piece, so make sure that there is enough of the overhang for you to have a solid grip. Grease the parchment or foil well.

Stir in the vanilla into the cooled fudge mixture to loosen it up. Add the eggs into the mixture 1 at a time, adding the second egg after the first egg is fully incorporated. The batter should look shiny and well blended. Add in your flour and stir it until it’s fully incorporated. Once it looks fully blended, beat the batter vigorously for at least 45 strokes. This’ll not only get out any pent up stress, but it will make the brownies chewy. Fold in your chocolate chips. Spread the very thick and fudgy brownie batter evenly in the lined pan with an offset spatula or your greased hands.

Pop the brownies in the oven and bake until they get a nice crust and your house smells like brownies, 30 to 35 minutes. Let them cool completely on a rack or a dishtowel on your counter.

Chocolate Pudding:
Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder and flour in a bowl until there are no lumps. Crack the eggs into the bowl, add the yolks and whisk into a paste. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk until fully incorporated. Then whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk. Put the milk mixture into a saucepan and put over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it starts to look like pudding. It will begin to bubble and it will hold soft peaks when you lift the whisk out. Take off the heat and cool to room temperature.

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