I brought brownies to the little soiree last night--brownies and ice cream. The brownies were homemade, of course, but the ice cream was not, though it was Hagen Daaz and free of fake weird stuff (have you seen their new five line? just five real ingredients!). It was surprisingly good, if not homemade.
But I'd like to ask readers to indulge me in a little Brownie Manifesto...
Brownies are quintessentially American, and the default snack for many a harried baker who shares chocolatey goodness with others. As such, I feel positively evangelical about from-scratch brownies.
People, boxed brownies are a sad, sorry imitation of the real thing. A slight metallic twang *always* lingers, even if the brownies are laced with cream cheese, or frosting, or caramel, or peanut butter.
I beseech you, give this recipe a try. It's so simple that *anyone* can make it in about the same amount of time it takes to make brownies from a box. You need to have a few ingredients on hand, but honestly, life is better with a bag of flour and a tin of cocoa at your disposal.
The Best Brownies
from my Mom's small Hershey's chocolate cookbook, circa late 1970s/early 1980s
with a few small adaptations by yours truly
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa (I like Valrhona or Ghiradelli, but Hershey's is just dandy)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. espresso powder (optional)
as many chocolate chips, chunks, or discs as you want to toss in
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
I melt the butter in my 8 inch square baking dish as the oven heats up. Once it's melted, I combine it with the sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl--stir by hand, with a spoon or spatula, until combined. Next, add the eggs, and once they're incorporated, add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add chocolate bits if you'd like, pour into the pan (which is already greased from melting the butter in it--how clever is that?) Pop the pan into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the center is just set.
* I suspect you could mix the whole business in the baking dish if you wanted to save a dirty bowl--my Moosewood 6-Minute Chocolate cake can be mixed in the pan to no ill effect.*
How simple! And how impressive and delicious they are a la mode or naked, with an icy glass of milk or a steamy mug of coffee.
Won't you give them a try instead of reaching for a box if you're a box brownie fan?