The pickle man

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Brownies Without the Box

For someone who has always shied away from box cakes (I can make my mom's faster than I can go buy the box), I've always been deathly afraid to make brownies without a box.

I was scarred (not physically) very early in life by brownies.  One afternoon I was babysitting my younger sisters and brother and they asked for brownies.  Since we didn't have a box on the shelf, I decided to start from scratch.  I was 14 at the time and more than a little overconfident about my cooking abilities.  I mean, if I could make Kraft Mac and Cheese (this was before the kind in the cups), surely brownies were not beyond my reach.

I pulled out my mom's copy of Celebrations on the Bayou and decided to go for the ambitious sounding "Swamp Bottom Brownies."

To this day, I'm not quite sure where I went wrong.  Maybe I substituted baking soda for baking powder, or a tablespoon for a teaspoon.  Or maybe both.  Or maybe my mom had TNT powder stored on a shelf in her pantry.  Whatever the cause, my creation exploded in the oven.  Literally.  There was baked-on, exploded brownie on every square inch of surface in my mom's oven.

Needless to say, after 2 cans of Easy Off Oven Cleaner and almost an hour on my knees leaning in and scrubbing, I decided box brownies were all anyone every really needed.

That, and my oven was going to be at shoulder level - not down near the floor.

So why the change?  Well, we are approaching the one year anniversary of the start of this blog, and part of my goal was to challenge myself in the kitchen.  After all, this whole thing started because I had never made pickles before, either.  So I decided to tackle the beast - brownies.

Plus, there were some really cute boys around who spent an afternoon exhausting themselves - they needed some chocolate.
The afternoon started with an epic watergun battle...

Avery inspecting the weaponry

followed by swimming...

more fun with a giant ball

and a kiddie trampoline...  surely all this merits chocolate!

And no, I did not attempt "swamp bottom" ones.  These are fairly basic - they didn't even require the mixer. 

I was so busy snapping pictures of kids that I failed to get any of the brownies... except for this one.  I think Meredith should be a hand model :)
I adapted this from Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies by substituting brewed coffee for instant granules (which I didn't have), and by cutting the recipe in half.

2 sticks unsalted butter
12 ounces plus another 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons hot brewed coffee
3 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour (or Baker's Joy) a 12" casserole.
Melt butter and 12 ounces of chocolate chips over simmering water. Add the coffee.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl (not a mixer) stir together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the remaining chocolate chips and nuts (if using).  Pour into the casserole and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake!

Bryce gave them a good review!

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