Two things are lacking on this blog: bacon and chocolate. Yes, perhaps I gave you a tantalizing visual strip of salty pork luster yesterday, but I haven't really addressed it as a (beloved) ingredient in recipes. I have my reasons...which will be revealed in posts to come. But chocolate! No day is complete without at least a small piece of dark chocolate. If I am home and have time to do more than unwrap a chocolate bar, I will make brownies.
There is no need to ever use a boxed brownie mix. Ever. Seriously. You still have to add wet ingredients to dry, so how much harder is it to just open separate containers of flour/sugar/cocoa instead of a prepackaged box of it? I do have some friends who get nostalgic for the taste and texture of boxed brownies from their youth, and I get it. As much as I love a decadent truffle accented macaroni and cheese, I also love Lawry's Seasoned Salt sprinkled on my Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. (So what!) But they're not the same thing. Just try making real brownies. Once.
Photo by David Prince
My recipe is just a simple cocoa brownie recipe that has evolved over the years, from initially using Choco Bake when I would make them with my sister, Erin, back in the day (What up Suki?!?), to a more straightforward recipe using regular cocoa. Some people swear by using actual chocolate bars over cocoa, and I love those brownies too, because I think they are more densely chocolate (and I prefer fudgey over cakey brownies), but I am less apt to have enough chocolate on hand. I almost always have multiple containers of cocoa, however. (Let's face it. It's much more challenging to successfully snack on unsweetened cocoa when you get a chocolate craving.) Once you make the brownies once (or thrice), you will realize how quickly you can throw them together. And warm brownies straight from the oven? Enough said.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a small saucepan over low heat, gently melt the butter. Add the cocoa, stirring until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until the mixture is well blended and pale yellow in color. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour and salt and stir just to combine.
3. Pour the batter into a non-stick 8-inch square baking pan and bake for 22 - 25 minutes. (A toothpick inserted into the center should have a few crumbs clinging to it, but not be completely covered in batter.) Makes sixteen 2-inch squares.
For a variation, stir in any of the following at the end of step two:
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup chocolate chunks
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (such as walnuts or pecans)