On the rare occasion, you'll eat a brownie somewhere that, while you're unsure why, just doesn't measure down to the brownies sitting around most kitchens, potluck tables, or bakeries for that matter. You are unsure why. Maybe it's fresh. Frosted? Tender? Tastes of chocolate rather than cocoa and flour? Not dry? Not wet? Firm enough as in done, but definitely not gooey?
I make those brownies, she said... though I can't make them often. Because I'd eat them, you see. You can make them, too. The differences between what are soon to be your brownies and the regular, old garden variety brownies are basic, but not always obvious.
First, most people (and even bakeries) make brownies from a box where you add water or maybe water, oil, and eggs. That stuff was mixed together at a factory...when? It likely contained cocoa. And not great cocoa. Cocoa = dry. ( Even if they make scratch brownies, it is with cocoa.) Second, most people are afraid (or don't want to spend the time) of melting chocolate, which is about like heating coffee in the microwave. And if you're just against microwaves, you can melt chocolate in a small pan placed in a larger pan partially full of simmering water (a makeshift double boiler)--which is about like heating a larger pan partially full of simmering water. Next, you'll use butter, not oil--which will be a big part of your flavor. (Imagine toast with coconut or canola oil instead of butter?) Almost last, you will not over bake these gems and you'll eat them before they dry out. (If you're taking them somewhere, you should -- if at all possible -- make them the day you need them.) Last, you'll frost them with frosting you made yourself using real chocolate. Make this when you're home alone or you won't have a snowball's chance of licking the bowl.
I made a big pan last night for the choir I direct. They're about to put on a musical and then it's Holy Week; which means they're in rehearsal or at church about half of the time next week. If anyone deserved a pan of scratch brownies, it was them. I wish there weren't a couple left, but those leftovers enable me to snap a pic and pass on the goodness to you. Happy Chocolate.
frosted brownies for you
makes one 8"-9" pan of chocolatey goodness
doubles perfectly; use 9"x13" baking pan or bake in a large pie pan (10") for brownie pie
|There are more expensive and better brands of unsweetened chocolate, but Baker's is easily available.|
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut in pieces (half the individual ounces)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 tablespoons)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch baking pan; I like metal pans, but glass will work as well.
- To a 4 or 8-cup glass measuring cup, add the chocolate and butter. Cover it with a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high one minute.* Remove plate and stir. Microwave another 10 seconds at a time until the chocolate melts. Stir together well.
- Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; beat until well-combined.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir into the chocolate mixture until you can see no more white. Add the walnuts, stirring until blended.
- Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes or until brownies are pulling away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely on a rack before frosting.
- Store on counter, well covered, for one day, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator 4-5 days, or wrap well in aluminum foil and freeze up to one month.
For a special occasion, you might want to serve these with cinnamon ice cream, or (unfrosted) make a brownie sundae with them. They need milk, coffee, or red wine.
great chocolate frosting
- 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (cut in pieces or each ounce in half)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons milk (1/6 cup)
- Place chocolate and butter in a 4 cup microwave safe mixing cup or bowl. Cover with a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, remove plate, and stir. Microwave another 10 seconds at a time until chocolate is melted. Stir together well.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and milk. Beat until smooth.
- Fill a medium bowl 1/2 full of water and ice. Holding the handle of the mixing cup carefully, place the cup with the frosting in it into the ice water. Beat until thickened.
- Scrape frosting onto completely cooled brownies and spread evenly with a frosting spatula or table knife.