Monday, October 13, 2008

The other box for brownies

Last night, mere minutes before Mad Men was beginning, I was frantically searching in the freezer and cabinets for some sort of dessert. The results were not good. There was nothing, except for a small box of crumbly amaretto cookies (perfectly wonderful in certain situations, but this just wasn't one of them). This was a chocolate dessert day.

I did a quick search online for easy chocolate brownies, and let me tell you, the results were not good for this either. They had long lists of ingredients, long baking times, and worst of all when urgently searching for a recipe, included things I didn't have in my baking cabinet.

And then, I remembered something I so rarely turn to -- my recipe box. It was a gift from my Mom when I first moved into my own apartment in college. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my Mom and her recipe box, picking out all the things I wanted us to copy over. One of the wonderful things that made it in was a truly easy recipe for chocolate brownies from my great-grandmother.

It's made with ingredients I always have on hand, I put it together in about 15 minutes, and it came out the oven during a commercial break. It's more delicate and less dense than brownies from a box, and if you ask me, that's just about perfect.

Nana's easy chocolate brownies

You will need:

1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 squares Bakers semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsifted flour
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the shortening, butter, and chocolate together in a sauce pan on low heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Beat eggs with a mixer until light and foamy. Add sugar and beat a little more. Pour chocolate mixture into egg mixture and blend. Stir in flour mixture in two or three batches until incorporated. Stir in vanilla and nuts, if using. Pour into 8x8 baking dish and bake for 25 minutes or until just cooked. Don't overbake! Ere on the side of undercooking for better brownies.

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