Best Brownies

It often seems that the world divides (evenly or unevenly) into those who are waiting for dessert and those who have to produce it.

–Laurie Colwin, More Home Cooking, “Waiting for Dessert”

I’m the latter.  And I dug my own grave on this one because over the years I seem to have built one of those households where there’s always a little something-something for “Afters” and my kids have completely railroaded me.  They not only ask for something-something after dinner, they ask, “What’s for dessert?” after lunch! I quickly put my foot down on the tracks and made it an either-or situation.  If you want cake after lunch, you’re not getting cake after dinner too and if you want any cake at all, after any mealtime, that plate better be empty, buster.  Very often, in response to the $1,000,000 question, I’ll hand a child an apple or orange, accompanied by “Take it or leave it, kid.”

Mostly it’s cookies that appear for dessert, and usually Trader Joe-Joes.  I’m not a regular cookie baker outside of the holiday season.  When I get a hankering to bake, it’s usually brownies or cake.

I don’t like cakey brownies, I like them to be sort of undercooked and “squidgy” in the center, with that fabulous light-brown crackly surface.  Frosting has no business on a brownie, in my opinion, the brownie should be able to stand alone.  And in my further opinion, the only brownie recipe I need is Martha Stewart’s, which I got out of her book Favorite Comfort Food.    By the way, right under the brownie recipe on page 136 is a recipe for Root Beer Float.  No lie.  This continually amuses me and annoys me as only Martha Stewart’s cookbooks can do.  A recipe for root beer float.  I mean, honestly…does someone actually need direction for pouring soda over ice cream?

But this brownie recipe is divine, the only one I need, the one I passed up to my mother, and the one I will pass down to my children and grandchildren.

Martha Stewart’s Brownies

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter  (Butter, say it with me.  Butter.  BUTTAH!!!! And yes, do bake with unsalted butter)
  • 8 oz bittersweet baker’s chocolate (Original recipe says 8 oz bittersweet, however my mother experimented and found that 6 oz of bittersweet and 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate make a truly superior and mature brownie, and I wholeheartedly agreed…until the day I had only 4 oz of bittersweet and 4 oz of unsweetened.  I plunged ahead and found that this 50/50 combination made the ultimate brownie.  This is now why I have opened boxes of both bittersweet and unsweetened baker’s chocolate in the freezer, and several loose squares with “B/S” or “U/S” scratched into the wax paper covering.)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.  Grease 9 x 13 baking pan, or spray with Pam.

Set a heat-proof bowl  over simmering water.  Put the chocolate and butter into the bowl and melt until smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  (You must let it cool because if you stir hot chocolate into your egg mixture, you will have chocolate-scrambled-egg mixture and you will have failed.)

In a small bowl, stir flour and salt together, set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugars and vanilla, beat well with a whisk.

Add cooled chocolate to egg mixture, whisk until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture, beat until combined.

Pour batter into pan, bake for 30 minutes.  Let cool for as long as the masses can stand it.  Cut into squares, making sure you get at least one corner piece.  Serve.  Die.

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5 comments on “Best Brownies

  1. mclj2011 says:

    I absolutely agree – the “cake-like” brownies are not as good as the gooey delicious semi-undercooked ones. This looks like a very good recipe — I’ll have to try it!

  2. Stacie says:

    LOVE the gooey brownies! Can’t wait to try this recipe! You DO know the trick of using a plastic knife (the cheap disposable kind) to cut the warm brownies cleanly, right?!?!? Just found that one out last year!

  3. Marie says:

    I know you are an Ina fan as well – what do you think about her belief that chocolate is always enhanced by a bit of coffee (in the batter, not on the side. . . . )? Have been playing around with this myself – curious if you have an opinion?

  4. Swain says:

    Chocolate and coffee are indeed a match made in Heaven. In fact I drink my coffee with a big squeeze of Hershey Special Dark syrup.

    When I made the brownies this last time, I was down to my last 4 squares of bittersweet chocolate but had a full box of unsweetened. So I did 4 oz of b/s and 4 oz of u/s. They were just as good if not even a touch better.

    And now you have me thinking that next time I might try a little instant espresso powder sifted into the flour…..?

  5. Lisa says:

    I like brownies undercooked with a crust, too. So I’ll have to use that book to make a pan. The Meat Loaf from the same book is my standard and it’s fantastic.

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