Brownies brownies brownies…I like plain brownies. You are just not going to find a lot of iterations of brownies on The Meaning of Pie because when I go “crazy” with brownies I change from all purpose flour to cake flour. Woo-hoo!!! I like plain plain plain brownies. Sometimes I like them with pecans and I always like them with a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar, but no mint, and no cream cheese and no walnuts and no “stuff”. I am a creature of habit.
Brownies are another one of those dishes that my mom always made for family gatherings. If we were really nice, she would make a batch without pecans. She rightfully told us to shove off on the issue most of the time. Now I see she was right to do so, because they are amazing with pecans but kids will be kids, right? The kid in charge of the brownie baking for this post is my daughter, Lily. Thus, no pecans. But feel free to mix them in if you like them.
I used cake flour for this batch and they were very tender and gooey and wonderful. I often use all purpose flour and I wouldn’t make a special trip to the store over it. But if you have cake flour, I think it is optimal. You do not want to over-cook brownies. I would rather eat an undercooked, gooey, middle bite of brownie any day of the week than a dried out brownie. This batch went 20 minutes in the oven and it was perfection. If you, like I, are letting a kid man the ship, you will need to give a hand getting the eggs completely mixed in and in folding in the flour. Otherwise, this is a fantastic recipe to let kids loose on…on which to let kids loose…I want you all to know that I know that you aren’t supposed to put a preposition at the end of a sentence. Really, I do. But sometimes, in my opinion, when you are as apt to enjoy clichés as I am…sometimes getting it all in the right order sounds silly. So loosen up. I hope you are here for the food and not the grammar or you might be sorely disappointed.
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1½ cups cake flour (200g)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter and the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for 45 seconds at a time at 50% power. Stir it. Then continue to cook and stir at 50% power in 45 second stints until the chocolate and butter are mostly melted. Residual heat will continue to melt the chocolate so you can stop when it is mostly melted.
2. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and set aside. If a kid is doing the cracking, let them crack each egg into one small bowl and then transfer it to the larger bowl when you have determined that there are no shells in the small bowl.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl and whisk to combine them.
5. Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the bowl of sugar and whisk to mix the sugar and chocolate thoroughly. It starts out thick but be patient and it all comes together. Add the eggs a little at a time and stir to combine. Add the vanilla and mix the batter for a minute. Add the flour mixture and fold it in until the batter is smooth.
6. Pour the batter into a 9” x 13” pan and bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes. Check with a toothpick and remove the brownies from the oven when moist crumbs come out on the toothpick (but not wet batter). If the toothpick comes out totally clean, you may have over-baked…so you are not going for a clean toothpick with brownies.
The rubber band is on the jar of vanilla because my jar lid gets stuck and the rubber band gives you purchase when you try to get it off. If Pitts isn’t around to be my official jar opener, I usually turn to the rubber band and have success.
I line my pan with parchment because I like to carefully lift out the brownies about 10 minutes after they come out of the oven in order to cut them. I find it much easier than trying to cut them and serve them out of the pan. The bottoms of these are necessarily a bit sticky so scooping them out of the pan with a spatula can squish and squash the brownies. This doesn’t matter if your family is devouring from the pan, but it does matter if you are making them for later transport and serving. I simply spray may pan with a little non-stick spray…lay down the parchment…give it another quick spray on top of the parchment…and add the batter.
If you have never tried brownies with confectioners’ sugar sprinkled on top, I highly recommend that you do. It tastes great and it is rather lovely, too.