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"Just Right" Brownies From Scratch

I figured brownies would be an acceptable way to break the radio silence here. Between school and incubating the 4th little egg to join our nest (expected to hatch in August :) ), I've been too tired to be terribly creative in the kitchen, and have been depending mostly on our tried and true favorites for dinners. But my husband and older kids are planting the raised beds as I write, the end of our homeschool year is in sight, and I hope to blog a few garden updates, homey things, and recipes before getting swept up in another newborn whirlwind. 

Yesterday was my current youngest's 3rd birthday, and she requested brownie sundaes for dessert.  I've tried a number of different homemade brownie recipes in the past, including the much talked about one from Baked, but in truth have usually preferred brownies from a box.  Whaaa...?  I think the homemade versions, while very good, always feel just a little too complicated to me with their additions of coffee or espresso, multiple types of sugar, etc.--and they taste it, too. These brownies are just right.  That perfect, uncomplicated, chocolatey and fudgey box-mix brownie taste and feel without any dyes, preservatives, or other nasty filler stuff. They take just a few minutes to whip up.

This recipe's base comes from an unassuming little cookbook called Cookies: Food Writers' Favorites, edited by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane Baker.  Amazon has some used copies available.  In the book the recipe is titled Just Brownies, but I've made some changes to use cocoa powders and a little oil instead of unsweetened baking squares, a little salt, and subbed chocolate chips for walnuts. 

A note on cocoa powders: my local bulk cooking/baking supply store sells Callebaut products and I believe that the cocoa I get there is relabeled Callebaut powder. The Royal Dutch Cocoa has wonderful flavor with no bitterness, and the Black Cocoa is coal black, giving a more appealing, rich color than its lighter counterpart. I love baking with these cocoa powders and have not tested this recipe with others, but I expect it would fare just fine with Hershey's or another brand. Or, do as the original recipe suggests and melt three 1 oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate with your butter, and omit the cocoa powders and oil. 

Just Right Brownies

1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
6 T. Royal Dutch Cocoa
3 T. Dutch-processed Black Cocoa
3 T. vegetable oil
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 8x8x2" pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk together melted butter, cocoa powders, and oil until smooth. Stir in sugar, mix well.  Blend in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and salt, mix well. Stir in flour, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour/spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set.  Don't overbake.  Allow to cool completely.

For Fudge Frosting: Whisk together 2 T. melted butter, 2 T. Royal Dutch Cocoa, 3/4 c. confectioners' sugar, and 2 T. whole milk until smooth. Spread on cooled brownies, then allow to set before serving.


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