Friday, August 20, 2010

Fudgy Brownies

I have been making thse brownies for years.  I stopped making them for a while, going for the convenience of box mix brownies.  But there is something about brownies from scratch that you can't get from a box. For one thing, they aren't loaded with preservatives so they taste really buttery and fresh. I like that. Everyone should like that.


The edges are particularly yummy because they are crisp. I like how the edges creep up and fold in as they begin to cook. If you look in the oven as these cook, the middle stays really wet until the very last 5 minutes. And you have to watch it so the middle is done without letting it get overcooked and dry.


For a little history on these brownies, I was probably in junior high when I started making these.  Yes, I have been in the kitchen since a very young age thanks to my mom and her watchful eye.

I discovered that these super dense, rich brownies turn out well when baked in a round cake pan.  To make these really fancy looking, tip the cooled pan of brownies (from a round cake pan) onto a cake stand and dust with powdered sugar.  You could even put a doily on top, then dust with powdered sugar, and remove the doily to make a nice pattern. A few washed raspberries add a little color to the presentation.

They are also perfect for making a layered ice cream cake.  Bake the brownies in a round springform pan.  When cool, (this is important, brownies must be totally cool or the ice cream will melt) spread semi-softened ice cream on top.  Pop the whole thing into the freezer to set the ice cream.  To serve, let warm only about 2 minutes on the counter and remove the springform ring.  Slice into wedges like a cake. I never bothered to frost this because if you are ambitious, you could use softened ice cream instead of frosting. Remember to store this treat in the freezer.

If you are interested in sneaking healthy food into treats, this recipe is perfect.  You could substitute a portion of the butter for applesauce or baby-food prune puree.  You could also substitute some whole wheat flour for the regular flour, or even add a spoonful of toasted wheat germ or flax seed meal.

One last thought, these are pretty easy so get the kids involved!  Eric pulled up a chair, climbed up and jumped right in with a wooden spoon.   Measuring, cracking eggs, and mixing is certainly fun for kids, educational too. The only thing not safe for kids is the oven useage. Eric can't reach the microwave, so I do all the microwave tasks.


Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups flour

Method
1. Melt the butter.  I like to microwave the butter in a large glass mixing bowl for about 30 seconds at a time.  Stir and microwave in additional intervals of 30 seconds until all melted.

2. Add the sugar and cocoa powder to the melted butter.  Mix well.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

4. Add the salt and flour. Mix until the lumps are blended in.

5. Grease a 9" square pan, or use nonstick spray like Baker's Joy with Flour. (I really like the Baker's Joy spray.) Pour in batter. Smooth out the top. Let your assistant lick the bowl and wooden spoon while you move on to step 6.

6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven about 40-45 minutes. Cook until it passes the toothpick test.

7.  Let cool (sometimes) and slice into 16 squares. Make these small, because they are rich.

8. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Or get fancy and drizzle some chocolate syrup on the plate, place brownie on top then garnish with a little spray whipped cream.