Perhaps the Best Brownies I Have Ever Had

 

I go through phases. For months, I will dutifully write-out my weekly meal plan, go to the grocery store once a week, and proceed to make dinner according to the schedule. I will have flipped through my favorite cookbooks, blogs, and magazines and found new, inspiring recipes to create for my family. I will try new ingredients, new dishes, and feel an overall sense of accomplishment with myself.

But then, for no immediately apparent reason, the energy for it all will start to peter out. I’ll notice that instead of making the grilled pork tenderloin with the “brand new wild rice dish I’m trying out” on the side that was scheduled for that night’s dinner….I will whip up bean and cheese quesadillas with canned beans, pre-shredded cheese, jarred salsa, and some orange slices. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….no, the kids are fed, everyone is happy, but I’m left with a pantry of random ingredients.

To combat this problem, I made an unofficial 2012 resolution for myself….use up what you have before you buy new.

I am forcing myself, through sheer will-power, to use up the ingredients meant for a recipe that’s already been forgotten….before I go buy new tantalizing items.

 

 

I have not figured out the best way to be involved at my daughter’s high school. It’s a tricky situation. You want to be involved enough to have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on there…without cramping your child’s style. No matter how cool and hip you think you are, your kid doesn’t want you on their turf and you will never be cool…enough…even if you think to yourself, “Hey, I’m not looking too bad for being in my 40s!” That might be true, but your high schooler doesn’t see that. He thinks you look like every other parent out there trying to put a damper on his fun. At the beginning of the year, I signed up to help with the Hospitality Committee. Every other month or so, I get called up to make some cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and so on. Right up my alley. The only bummer is that the only amount of spying I can do on my daughter is during the time I walk through the front doors and drop off my goods at the office. Not a lot of recon I can do during that time. Good for her, but not so good for me. I need information people. Who are these people she’s hanging out with? Next year, I’m going to have to find a better plan for more in-depth spying but for now, I’ll stick with the baking.

A few weeks ago, I was called up to bake some goods for a big, hoo-ha, meeting involving our school officials. Sticking with my “unofficial resolution,” I pawed through my pantry for inspiration and darn it all if I didn’t have a stash of baking chocolate just begging to be used.

“Oh, poor me, I’ll just have to make something chocolatey!”

After much research, I discovered and made a recipe for what might be the best brownies I have ever had. Even the Rooster, who’s not a big chocolate guy (he prefers those little vanilla shortbread cookies with a drop of preserves or a candied cherry in the middle), searched me out in the house to let me know, “Damn sweetie, those brownies are amazing!”

They have that rich fudgy center with the perfect crust of concentrated butter, sugar and chocolate.

A few words about them since I’ve now made four batches of them. (And I seriously have to wonder why my jeans are a little tight.) Doubling the recipe and cooking two batches at once, isn’t the best idea. The batch on the bottom doesn’t cook well enough in the center. Also, stick with a conventional oven. Using the convection oven cooks the brownies evenly, but we don’t want even cooking. No, we want that outside crust of concentrated butter, sugar, and chocolate. And finally, they must be eaten within 24 hours. I don’t care how “air-tight” the container is….brownies don’t hold up after 24 hours. So, if you plan on making these for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day…simply get up early and do your baking. Or better yet, make them in the evening and eat them warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heaven….

While the “use up the chocolate” to make brownies was a hit with the family and the high school, the “use up the cabbage and potatoes” to make a watery soup with a few bits of ham a few nights ago, wasn’t as well received. Ah, well, you can’t please everyone, everyday.

 

I seriously have a bag of wild rice I purchased for a recipe I can no longer recall. Does anyone have any tasty, kid-pleasing ideas on what to do with it?

 

 

Perhaps the Best Brownies I Have Ever Made
4.8 from 4 reviews
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Course: dessert
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 dozen
Here's the thing about baking...the ingredients really do matter. Try to use the best ingredients you can afford. Although, that being said, life is short, brownies should add pleasure to your life, not stress, and any combination of sugar, butter, and chocolate has got to be good, doesn't it? But, if you are making these to impress...consider your ingredients. For these, I use Scharffen Berger's 99% Cacao unsweetened dark chocolate, Straus Family Creamery's organic unsalted butter, Baker's sugar, locally farmed eggs, and a pure vanilla extract (no imitations). I think it makes all the difference. While you're at it, check the expiration date on your baking powder. The fresher, the better. Enjoy....
Ingredients
  • 4 oz. 99% cacao unsweetened dark chocolate (not the powder, the bar kind)
  • ⅔ c butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ c all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you do not have an oven thermometer, I recommend getting one. Since baking actually is like a chemistry experiment, having an oven off by even 25 degrees can affect your final product. Such an easy thing to fix. (Ummm, so easy and yet I finally bought one just the other week after 10 years of suspecting my oven gauge might be off a bit...which it was by about 25 degrees.)
  2. Grease a 9"x12" (or thereabouts) pan or pyrex dish and set aside.
  3. Whip out your heavy bottomed dutch oven or soup pot. On low heat, melt your chocolate and butter in the pot.
  4. Take it off the heat and stir in your sugar with a whisk or a wooden spoon.
  5. One at a time, crack your eggs into the pot and whisk until incorporated.
  6. Stir in your vanilla.
  7. Dump your flour, salt, and baking powder on top of the rich chocolate mixture. With a fork mix the dry ingredients up a bit without digging into the chocolate.
  8. Pick up your wooden spoon or whisk again, and stir everything together until just combined. Don't over stir. We don't want that flour releasing all of its gluten. We're not making bread people.
  9. Pour the whole gooey mess, into your prepared pan.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes but check at 20.
  11. Don't overbake. The brownies are done when a toothpick comes out almost clean.
  12. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then cut into uniform squares.
  13. Makes at least 24 brownies or more, depending on how you cut them.
  14. Enjoy my friends!
  15. PS: If you are wondering about the room temperature eggs...it helps them emulsify better with the solid ingredients. Think chemistry class here people.

 

Original recipe, Karen’s Working Parent No Fuss-Brownies, (although, that sounds redundant, what parent isn’t working??)

 

Comments

  1. Okay, it is early in the morning & I am craving brownies….thanks;). I must have a problem that I never knew about….I rarely get a meal plan for the week, shop at least every other day (I am voting for a frequent shopper card at the QFC) and always have a pantry full of things that I have no idea why I purchased them…I thought that meant I had a well stocked pantry.
    Now for advice about recon at the high school – Engage another student that loves to dish information, preferably a girl, they talk more and give more details…it needs to be someone that isn’t really one of your daughters friends. I find an upper classman more useful. Good luck!

    • Maybe I have the problem. Maybe I need to look at my pantry as simply being well-stocked. Oooo…and I love the upper classman advice. I’m going to have to find me one of those.

  2. They look fantastic! I need to try them!

  3. This is our favorite wild rice recipe – my girls love it!
    Warm Wild Rice and Chicken salad (serves 4)
    1 box wild rice cooked
    3 large chicken breasts cooked and cut into 1″ chunks
    1 large apple cored and cut into 1/2″ chuncks
    1/2 large red bell pepper diced
    1/2 cup dried currants
    1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
    Toss with dressing:
    2 T balsamic vinegar
    2 T olive oil
    S&P to taste

    Serve warm or cold with some crusty bread :).

    • Oh my…Gina…this is already on my meal plan for next week. This recipe looks fantastic! I’m thinking of leaving the chicken out and serving it with grilled sausages. What do you think? Thank you so much, dear, for sharing.

  4. i am trying to do the same thing with using up what we have before we buy more. we are short on space but somehow I have an ever growing collection of sprinkles and other weird randomness.

    These look fabulous I’m such a sucker for brownies, right out of the oven. mmmm

    • I am right there with you….I have so many little half used things of sprinkles and the funny thing is I rarely bake anything that calls for sprinkles so I’m not sure how I ended up with so many. If you find a way to use them up….let me know.

  5. I agree…no brownie should be subjected to less than the best ingredients….ok I just have to ask was that ScharffenBerger chocolate from BlogherFood 2 years ago? Because I still have mine in my pantry! Pathetic. I do exactly what you do, and have been in the process of cleaning out my pantry. I had all sorts of unused and forgotten ingredients that were well intended for some luverly recipe that never happened! Stay tuned for the pantry post. Ok now I’m going to go make these brownies with my 2yr old chocolate bar. Love you!

    • Okay, Sheila, too funny…you totally called me out. Yes, yes, it’s the crazy stash of chocolate bars from the BlogHerFoods. I will admit that I tossed the one from two years ago because it had a milky white film and I just didn’t think that looked so good but I still had two more bars left from last May and I’m sure we’ll get more in June!! Let me know if you come up with another recipe for using up those bars. This is a good one but I know I’ll need some variety next time I find a stash. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!!

  6. Ok, made these brownies this morning with my 3 year old. They are SO good! My first ever attempt at making brownies from scratch and it was so easy and fun. Loved that we only had to dirty one pan. I will never make brownies from a box again. Thank you Carrie!
    PS. My daughter is one of those weird kids who doesn’t like chocolate but she loved these brownies.

    • Oh, Jennifer, I’m so glad you, and your darling daughter, enjoyed them. And I’m with ya….love that there is only one pot to clean!! So easy…..

  7. Susan Hebert says:

    Absolutely the best brownies ever and so easy!! Thanks.

  8. Carrie, we just arrived at our Buenos Aires apartment, and I’m so excited to have a kitchen at my disposal for the next month. Our host from Bolivia gifted me with an amazing chocolate bar (100% pure rainforest grown cacao from a new project working with indigenous communities in the northern Bolivian jungles), and I’ve been carrying it in my bag for the past three weeks, just waiting for the right way to use it… If I can make friends with mass transit and round up the baking ingredients, this would be the perfect project! Thanks for sharing the recipe. xx

    • Bethany, Thank you for a little update into your amazing adventure. Hope whatever you decided to make with the chocolate was sublime! Safe travels, my friend!

  9. These look great Carrie – thanks for sharing – I think my boys will love them

  10. This reminds me of the recipe for brownies in the New York Times Cookbook, which was popular to send soldiers at Christmas in the 1940′s. I’m going to try these next, Carrie, as I’m always on the lookout for the next brownie. Perfectly detailed photograph too.

    • Oooo….I’m going to have to try the NYT Cookbook brownies. Now, that you are mentioning them, I remember reading about them at one time. Thanks for the reminder, Shalini!

  11. Dear Miss,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. After a day sick in bed, I needed a treat to lift my spirits.
    Even though I had only whole-wheat flour, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and no vanilla (I tried using maple syrup!), the recipe turned out WONDERFUL.
    Next time, I’m going to use better-quality ingredients and add some nuts.
    Thanks for turning my day around!
    With best wishes,
    Emily

    • Hi Emily, Oh I’m so thrilled this recipe could provide a little inspiration to creating a chocolate concoction that made you feel better. I’ll have to try it with whole-wheat flour sometime. Cheers!

  12. Wow these were really good! I made a few changes, sprinkling a little extra sea salt on top just before baking, just because i love the taste of sweet and salty. These were kind of cakey but also a little chewy, perfect brownie in my opinion, thanks a lot!

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