Tonight I realized I had no dessert about the house, and since I had a pretty early dinner (for me) I figured I needed something to distract me from cutting my wrists or kicking the TV while watching all the female characters on Mad Men wander around angrily doing nothing in pretty dresses. I had a couple apples, but needed to save those for work. I made chocolate lava cakes this weekend, but in each instance they left me wired for hours. And I do need to be in at a reasonable time tomorrow.
What to do? Make brownies, that's what!
I don't understand why on earth more people don't make their own brownies. I'm not gonna lie, I grew up on brownies from a box too, but really, homemade brownies are really just about the fastest, easiest, most forgiving baked dessert there is. Really. I promise. It's really hard to screw them up. You have to work at ruining brownies. They don't care about ingredient temperatures or mixing time. They can be as simple or as fancy as you want, and chances are that if you ever bake at all, you have everything you'd need to make a pan in your kitchen right now. You don't even need a mixer, just one bowl and a spoon. And they are genuinely waaaaay better. I decided to try making my own on a whim one day, and have never gone back.
I like my brownies simple. My favorite recipe is adapted from the 1950 Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, (which I LOVE). These brownies are chewy rather than squidgy, more cakey than fudgy, but that's what I like best (which is why I hate most bakery brownies, everyone does those heavy fudgy things).
First, you want to melt your butter (1/3 cup) and chocolate (2 oz) together. My recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, which I never have about the house, so I substitute 3/8 c cocoa and either 2 T butter or oil. Melt (double boiler or microwave, it doesn't matter) and mix together.
Then dump in a cup of sugar and two eggs. Stir it all up.
At this point you can add flavoring if you want. Or not. I love vanilla, so I usually add a splash, and today I'm also including about 1/2 tsp of espresso powder for extra chocolate taste. That's totally optional, though.
Now add in 3/4 c flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. You're supposed to sift them in, but these are brownies. It does not really matter unless you have super lumpy flour, and if your flour is that lumpy...well, I can't help you there. Stir.
I think brownies require walnuts, so I add about 1/2 cup or howevermuch looks right. Spread your batter in a nicely greased 8 inch pan and bake for about 30 minutes on 350.
Cool. Cut. Apply to face.