A brownie confession

I have to admit this right at the top: well into the phase of my culinary life when I considered myself a competent, even accomplished baker, I made brownies from a mix.

I hate mixes. By that, I mean that my sister once gave me the nickname Ms. The-Devil-Bakes-From-Mixes. The enmity between us is serious, but when it came to brownies, the chewy goodness of the packaged stuff always swayed me in the end.

You too? Yeah, I know. But fear not! Let the chains of your oppression be broken.

brownie batter

Better-than-a-mix Brownies
These are very slightly modified from a friend’s mother’s recipe. True story.

4 squares (1 oz each) baking chocolate*
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
pinch salt
1 1/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a square baking pan, either 8″x8″or 9″x9″.

Break the squares of chocolate into quarters or smaller. If you’re really diligent, you could grate them or chop them, but I always find this too time-consuming when I want brownies.

Put the chocolate and the butter in the microwave and heat in 30-second bursts, stirring after each, until the chocolate is mostly melted. Then take it out of the microwave and stir it until it’s completely smooth. (This is a good chocolate secret: get it 90% melted, and then let the heat of the mixture do the rest. If you try to melt it all the way by heating, you risk burning and seizing.)

Add the sugar and mix thoroughly, then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Finally, add the flour and salt and stir until thoroughly combined.

Pour into the greased pan and bake about 30 minutes. They’re done when a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out with gooey crumbs but not batter. They’re hard to cut before they cool, but worth it both ways. Baked brownies keep well in the freezer: cool, slice, wrap tightly in tinfoil, and then stick the whole thing in a plastic bag.

mmm, brownies

*Would these be better if you used high-end unsweetened chocolate? No doubt. But they’re totally awesome even with whatever you can get at the store.

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