Well, it seems to be working… all those afternoons in the kitchen with Kristen baking cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pancakes, etc. apparently have made an impact on her. She is starting to ask for cooking sessions out of her own motivation. A few weeks ago, she organized her first family gathering inviting her aunt, uncles and grandparents over for coffee and cupcakes. I let her prepare the (cake mix) cupcakes all by herself (under my supervision for chaos control). She was so proud of herself!… and so were we.
On one of her requested baking sessions, we wanted to make brownies. I reached for the brownie mix in my pantry, only to find that it had expired. Brownies from scratch it is, then. I searched for a few recipes and decided to go with the one from Smitten Kitchen, I didn’t want any surprises and Deb’s recipes haven’t let me down. What I liked the most about this recipe, aside from being a good classic brownie recipe, is the tip for using aluminum foil to cover the pan before you add the batter! I will do this every time from now on, it made getting neat squares easy.
Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it) the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy. If overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
- Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar.
- Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.