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Friday, September 16, 2011

In Celebration of the Brownie

Duncan Hines, creator of
a great brownie recipe...  But not
the greatest...
Brownies...  who doesn't like them?  Well, everyone should like them.  They come in a huge variety of tastes and textures...  Cakey brownies, fudgy brownies.  Dense brownies, thick brownies.  Peanut butter brownies, raspberry truffle brownies, mint brownies...  butterscotch brownies.  I'll admit that last one is controversial, the ubiquitous blondie, as many think that without chocolate, it's not really a brownie.  But, I digress.

I have recently been on a search for the best brownie.  I've always loved the original Duncan Hines brownie.  I am not talking about the ones from the box (nothing from a box even closely resembles a real brownie), but an old recipe published in a 1940's Duncan Hines cookbook.  This is the recipe favored by my mom, and it's the one I grew up with.  I can never get it quite right, though.  Sometimes they are perfect, sometimes too dry, sometimes undercooked.  Still, they're pretty high on my list of brownies, but I've recently found another that just might beat it for flavor and texture, if not nostalgia.  More on that in a moment...

One of the nicest gifts I ever received was from my wife's grandmother, a woman who deserves her own Dapper and Dreamy entry.  Knowing that I liked to bake, she put together about twenty different brownie recipes for me.  Brownies with a crust, Going Bananas Brownies, Chocolate Syrup Snacking Brownies, Best Ever Cocoa Brownies...  the list goes on.  I've had more fun trying out these recipes over the years, and the little book has a special place in my kitchen.  As you can see, I like brownies.

My children like brownies, too.  But here's the rub...  They actually think (wait for it....) that brownies from a box are better than homemade!  Obviously, my kids are so spoiled by from scratch, home cooking that such a thing might appear to be a treat, but I am still more than a little offended.  That might have changed, though, thanks to Susan Branch and her fabulous blog.

Recently, Susan posted a recipe for her brownies that were easy, delectably fudgy and marvelously chewy.  They are made in a pan, no extra bowls needed, and go from stove to oven in only a few minutes.  They bake up perfectly and, if left to cool, have the fudgy, chewy texture of the aforementioned boxed brownie, with the delicious flavor of homemade.  This way, we are all happy (as long as I omit the nuts...  Sorry, Susan)!  I know that these are popular because, unless I cut and hide one for myself, there's no chance there will be anything left for me by the end of the evening.

So, with the kind permission of Susan Branch herself, here is the recipe for the perfect brownie...

Susan Branch's Perfect Brownies

Preheat oven to 325. Butter an 8″ square baking pan.
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 c. butter (51/2 Tbsp.)
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. flour (don’t have to sift, just stir to lighten)
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt chocolate and butter in a large saucepan. Turn off heat under saucepan; stir in rest of ingredients in order given. Spread in baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely for chewiest results.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jake, one other thing about these brownies, you don't have to separate the egg! It's the little things in life! :-) Have a great day!