The Best Chocolate Browniesby Lori Grossman
It's holiday time again! I don't know about you, but I can't think about the holidays without all those mouth-watering baking aromas wafting through the house. Sometimes, I like to make brownies to give to friends and family, figuring they're probably up to their eyebrows in cookies already. And brownies are pretty versatile, too. You can make basic ones that can be mailed to a lucky recipient, or push the envelope and make a luscious, gourmet treat to serve at home.
When baking brownies, it's important to slightly underbake them. All varieties of brownies have the best texture when they're just slightly underbaked. You'll know they're done when the edges are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. The usual tips you use to check if a cake is done don't apply to brownies. For example, the top of your brownies shouldn't be springy to the touch, and a toothpick should come out with plenty of crumbs sticking to it – not clean as it would be for a cake.
The first two recipes are good for mailing if they'll be delivered within several days. Wrap individual brownies in two layers of plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. If you're packing them in a tin, cushion with layers of bubble wrap. For more packing and shipping info and tips, you might want to check out my Special Delivery article from last year.
These are my favorite brownies. They're quick and easy to make, plus you don't have to go through all the bother of melting chocolate because you're using cocoa. (I prefer the taste of cocoa, anyway).
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x9-inch metal baking pan.
In a 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in sugar with a wooden spoon. Stir in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla until well blended.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into saucepan until blended. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
Bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the center of the pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cool, cut into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 4 pieces.
Prep time: 10 minutes; Cooking time: 25 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes