Sunday, June 12, 2011

Recipes from Grandma -- Grandma's Brownies

I have to be honest. This recipe isn't from one of my grandmothers, or great aunts, or even my mother.

It's a recipe from a semi-humorous cookbook I discovered long after college, entitled, Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen, which was co-written by a mother and son, Kevin and Nancy Mills. This must be one of their grandmothers' recipes.

When I have to whip up brownies from scratch rather than from a box mix, I use this one. It's really good. Of course, I make ALL kinds of substitutions, but what baker doesn't. If you look in the background of one of the photos below, you can see that this page of my cookbook has a swipe of chocolate across it from an earlier batch.

I'm going to quote the whole thing, because Kevin's commentary is funny. Such a guy.

Grandma's Brownies
Makes 15-16 Brownies, Each 2 inches*
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
Rating: Easy

There is something mysterious about brownies. A hundred people could follow the same recipe and each person's batch will come out different. My first attempt came out too dry because I didn't have the right pan. I got creative, divided the batter into two bread pans and overbaked both. But even if they didn't taste as good as Grandma's, how bad could they be? They were still chocolate.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine + more for greasing pan
3 squares unsweetened chocolate (substituted cocoa/oil as on back of Cocoa Box)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour + 1 teaspoon for dusting pan
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (skipped)

Place one of the oven racks in the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter or margarine and chocolate in a small pot over very low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs thoroughly in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer if you have one. Otherwise, a fork will do. Add the sugar gradually and mix thoroughly. Add the cooled mixture and mix again. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Add the vanilla and walnuts and mix again.

Lightly rub the bottom and sides of a 10x6-inch or 8x8-inch pan with butter or margarine. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon flour and swirl it around, coating the buttered surfaces. This keeps the brownies from sticking to the pan. (I actually skip this step and just spray the pan with Pam.) Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or knife comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Cut into squares* and serve. Store in a closed container or wrapped in foil.

*Or cook in my fancy brownie pan that makes equal sized brownies, so no one has to fight over the bigger square.

One of the best part of this book are the Mom Tips/Warnings scattered throughout, like this one:

Mom Warning:
Don't confuse unsweetened chocolate with semisweet. Both types of chocolate come in flat boxes with each ounce of chocolate individually wrapped. Make sure you use unsweetened chocolate in this recipe or you will definitely have a disaster. Unsweetened chocolate is bitter to the taste. Semisweet chocolate, which is what chocolate chips are made of, requires much less sugar than unsweetened chocolate. I once made the mistake of using semisweet chocolate instead of unsweetened in a fudge recipe. The end result was so sickly sweet that I had to throw it out. It was a very sad occasion.

To that I also say, don't try to satisfy a chocolate craving by trying to eat unsweetened chocolate which you have snuck out of your mother's fridge when she is not home, which you know aren't supposed to be doing in the first place, and if you get caught you are going to be in so trouble when she gets home, and then the phone rings and your guilty conscience goes into paranoid overdrive that somehow she knows. Or something like this that I know nothing about! ~ aka NOT ME! I don't know. It was Jed. Or J.J. No... the babysitter!!! That's it.

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