Wednesday 21 May 2014


One of the first things I ever learned to bake was a batch of brownies. Not from scratch, of course, but a box of Duncan Hines best - a fudge brownie with milk chocolate chunks. With just a couple of eggs and a good dose of vegetable oil, magic came to visit our humble kitchen and we were gifted heavenly brownies and even better- brownie batter, the king of all baking batters.

They don't make that particular mix anymore, sadly. Ghiradelli does an amazing mix, but it is not enough for a full 9 X 13 pan, so I'm always slightly disappointed by its yield compared to its deceased cousin Duncan. So naturally, I went on a search for my own recipe to make them from scratch...and in bulk.

I asked around, as I had never had much luck making them before. A bad brownie is such a dark disappointment. So often they end up too dry, too bland, crumbling about - just a big waste of calories without any pleasure. Most people pointed me towards a trusty box mix, but one gave me a link to the King Arthur Flour recipe, and I was sold. I first found them a wee bit rich, as I used 70% chocolate chunks rather than chocolate chips, but once I used just regular chips they came out perfectly. It is this recipe that made me decide to order the 9 X 13 pan online, as they are not readily available here in the UK. Every time I decide to make these, I am glad I did.

Assuming you have the big quantities of what's needed to make these, they are pretty straightforward.

Into one bowl goes your beaten eggs, loads of cocoa, some vanilla, salt, and raising agents. Oh, and some espresso powder. Did you know espresso gets its name from the "press" due to the way it's made, rather than "express" for fast. That's why people get annoyed when you say expresso.

But I won't judge you if you say expresso.

That all gets beaten into a smooth, thick paste.

Then you take a whole lot of butter and loads of sugar. The sugar is tinged with brown since I didn't rinse out the measuring cup. Would you?

That gets heated and melted together so that the sugar starts to dissolve. That helps make the brownies fudgey I guess.

Then it gets stirred into the cocoa mix. Try not to tell your kids you are making these, by the way, or they will not leave you alone until they get a spoon.

Our next photo is sponsored by the lovely people over at Costco. Now, usually here in the UK if you want to bake with chocolate chips you have to buy them in measly little 100g bags, meaning you need half a dozen of the things to whip up a decent batch of cookies. It's fiddly, and it makes you feel like a hoarder when you strip a store's supply of them just for a school bake sale. An American friend, who has a Costco membership, told me how she freed herself of these shackles by buying huge bags at Costco. She let us come along on a recent jaunt there, and I made sure to put these on my list.

We came home with two of these babies. Oh the joy of just scooping out what I need and STILL HAVING SOME LEFT! I was oh so happy. So before they got added, the batter looked like this.

So tasty...

But we did need a bit of flour along with the semi sweet morsels to make it into brownie batter.

Oh man, this stuff is amazing. Cookie dough has nothing on this.

Somehow I managed to smooth most of it into a pan. But some flew out of the bowl and into my belly first.

After a little while in the oven, I took them out looking like this. Resisting every temptation, I let them cool completely. Hot brownies are good, but I love them cooled and sliced into fudgy perfection.

And please, please people. Do not overbake your brownies. Moist crumbs should be sticking to that knife when you poke in the middle, and melted chocolate will get on it too. That's a good thing. Dry, solid bricks are not.

The greaseproof paper lining underneath them with a long edge means it's easy to grab and lift them out for slicing. I'm switching tenses now. I think I'm tired. Or maybe I just need a brownie.

Too bad they're all gone now cause I made these last week.

Time to get that bag of chips out again, I think...

And if you want the recipe, just go To King Arthur Flour's site here.

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