I have a confession to make. I hate brownies. They never come out right in my book. Too fudgy, or too cakey or just wrong on so many levels you don’t even know where to start. I do like a good brownie sundae, but then really I’m just looking for something to mash my ice cream into and a brownie works way better than a cookie. Besides, what do you think an ice cream sandwich is? If I wanted an ice cream sandwich I wouldn’t have said sundae now would I?
Anyway, when The BF and I first started dating, I tried to make him all sorts of baked goods. It’s kind of my thing and I’ve been told that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This is universally true, however, it is not universally true that all men have a sweet-tooth in their stomachs. Sad for me. While The BF may be sweet-tooth resistant, his roommate is not. It appears, that what where The BF is lacking, Samson makes up for in spades. And I have been told, on many occasions that Samson loves brownies.
The first batch I made him were a half-hearted attempt, I will admit. I had left over stout from those Irish Car Bomb cupcakes that I adore, and I found a brownie recipe that claimed to use it up. I figured it would be right up Samson’s alley. They were miserable. I was embarrassed to serve them. But not so embarrassed that I didn’t drop them off anyway just to get them out of my kitchen. Poor Samson had miserable brownies that I’m pretty sure just turned into little rock hard bricks on his counter. I vowed to myself that I would find a recipe that would be worthy of the name “brownie.” And while that may have taken me almost a year to find, I am convinced it was totally worth it.
These brownies have made me a brownie addict. I have to restrain myself from eating the whole pan. I may or may not have cut off all the edges for myself and served the middle to my co-workers. These brownies are so good, I nearly came to blows over them with Emily. Emily is a diehard boxed-brownie fan. Not being particularly fond of brownies myself, I was content to leave her in her world of boxed-brownies and preservatives – it’s her insides she’s pickling, not mine. But then I made these brownies and I knew I had to convince Emily to leave the dark side. Real, good, homemade brownies do exist!
I thought I had her convinced, but then she goes and posts on her facebook wall “you just cannot beat brownies from a box.” [record screeching to a halt] shut.the.front.door. Woman? Did you not get my ten dozen e-mails telling you to make these brownies? A few text messages and an apology on my part later we’re back on good terms, though I’m still wary of her brownie allegiances.
The original recipe for these brownies comes from the 1911 Boston Cooking School Cook Book
(you may have heard of Fannie Farmer, well this was her gig.) They were reprinted in the “Brownie Slideshow” that Saveur sent out over the summer. I tweaked the recipe a bit more, and I’m really glad I did. The addition of brown sugar gives the brownies a more caramel-y flavor that is quite possibly deadly. It’s that good. I’ve linked to the original but, the quality and types of ingredients from that era (o.m.g. exactly 100 years ago!) are so drastically different from what we have available today that honestly I’m not sure if you followed it precisely that it would yield the same results as the original anyway. But that’s just my opinion. What do I know? I only wrote a thesis on the history of the wedding cake and tested several 19th and early 20th century recipes. No big deal. :]
*Just a note: This is a one bowl recipe, so make sure the saucepan that you melt your butter and chocolate in, is big enough to hold the whole batch of brownies.
Adapted from Boston Cooking School Cookbook
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (or semi-sweet), chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup walnuts (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 325°F, line an 8in x 8in pan with tin foil or parchment, leaving an overhang, and grease it.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat. Add the sugars and stir with a wooden spoon. The batter starts to get thick now, so a good sturdy wooden spoon and some serious elbow grease will get the job done. In a liquid measuring cup beat together the eggs and vanilla. Add to the sugar and chocolate mixture and mix until smooth. Add the flour and walnuts if using and stir just until no streaks remain.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You should have a nice flakey crust on top, like when you use boxed mix, and a good ratio of cakey-to-fudgy center.
Let cool in pan slightly before using the overhang to gently remove brownies from pan. Let cool completely before slicing. (Or do some testing to make sure they’re cooked properly and trim off all the edges and eat them, you know, whatever makes sure your guests will enjoy them)