not as good as nana’s brownies

Posted on September 24, 2012


What do I know about a good brownie? A better question might be, what the hell am I doing making brownies if I don’t like chocolate, but let’s not go there right now. I’m going to give them away tomorrow, or most of them anyways. One was more than enough for me, since now I’ll be trying to go to bed, all sugar high…

I decided to go with my 9×13 pan, because it was the first thing listed on the recipe, and I decided that one dish would be better to wash than two. When I poured the batter in, it looked really low. Less than half way? I didn’t think that brownies would puff up that much, and figured I was doomed to failure.

I was thinking about it, and though I’ve tried a multitude of brownies in my life (though too many people put nuts in them which is why I never really was into them, though I do like a single very good tasting brownie here and there), and only liked some… I can’t recall ever actually making brownies myself.

They often grace our countertop, but always from a box as a quick thing after dinner, never from scratch and never because I’ve made them. So this whole thing about making them by scratch, which I’ve maybe witnessed somebody else doing, but I put a lot of pressure on these brownies working out well. I started to feel better about them once they’d been in the oven for about 25 minutes, because they had puffed up more than expected! Whew!

I decided late in the game that I wanted to add peanut butter chips into the brownies, aaaannnnd, they were already in the oven. I figured I could just add them on top once they’d been in the oven for about 25 of their 40 minute cook time. Did I think that these peanut butter chips would melt much like peanut butter does when it’s heated? Yes. Did they? No.

They look like they’ll melt. Stupid tricky things. They do not melt, not like chocolate does, anyways…

So, I smushed them with a spatula. Which was a half-hazard sort of last resort option with these stupid chips. It’s likely that most of what is in these chips is not naturally accuring, and soooo it doesn’t melt. Now I know that these bad boys have to be inside the cookie or brownie, and not outside. I do wonder if they would’ve done what I wanted them to do if they’d been dropped on top when the whole mixture was wet/uncooked. They had that crumbly look of something that is willing itself to melt, just hasn’t had the time…

Not too shabby for a first try. Sometimes the best thing to do is return to the source, and so when I looked (high and low) for a recipe that I could just use cocoa powder for I found many great looking recipes which called for melting chocolate, but only a few that included powder.

Ultimate Chocolate Brownies
adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate
fills either one 9x13x2 pan, or two 8-inch square pans

  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and divided
  • 3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Choose your pan size, grease it/them. Preheat your oven to 350F. Melt butter first thing, starting with room temperature butter is ideal, otherwise you’ll end up with SERIOUSLY hot butter if you are melting it as you try to use it…

In your stand mixer, sift cocoa and baking soda into the bowl and stir in 1/3c of butter with paddle attachment. Heat up some water in your electric kettle, and mix until batter starts to get thick. Add the sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3c butter; mix it until smooth. Sift in flour and salt, add vanilla extract mix until completely combined. Add your chocolate chips and put into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 30-40 minutes. One way to check for doneness of brownies is when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

I put a dollop (the word was totally rejected and mocked when I uttered it) of mascarpone cheese and dusted it with cocoa powder.

Posted in: bars, dessert