I have a dirty little secret that’s been festering for a while. Only my mother knows about it. But I think it’s time I told someone else what I’ve hidden for all these years. Here goes.
I don’t make homemade brownies.
It’s true. I think the Trader Joe’s brownie mix (keep in mind that I don’t use Betty Crocker or whatever brownie mix; I’m a TJ’s brownie mix snob. Yes, I realize what an oxymoron that is). is so superby chocolatey and delicious that I usually whip a batch of those up. They’re so fast and they’re practically foolproof. Some of my friends are the lucky recipients of these boxed miracles, and they seem to fawn over them for an irrationally long amount of time. I feel slightly guilty that they’ve been duped, but if they’re happy, what’s really the problem?
Anyways, I figured I should start foraying into the homemade brownie world more often. I started with this Alton Brown recipe, since I essentially worship anything that’s attached to him. I used the convenient excuse of my choir assignment for the weekend. My teacher told us to listen/sing to our Latin song and bake with an apron on because it was that kind of a song. I don’t exactly agree, but who am I to argue with a directive to baking?
This one was still super easy, though. I made these on a whim, so it was nice to not have to wait for the butter to soften. All the ingredients were things I normally have in the pantry, so I didn’t have to run out and buy anything. However, there was no all-purpose flour, so I used white whole wheat flour (it’s pretty mild, and the recipe only calls for ⅓ cup so I thought it wouldn’t make too much of a difference). I liked that no sifting was required, too. I pulled them out a bit gooey (at the 27 minute mark) because I figured the residual heat from the pan would help the brownies carry-over cook a bit.
The brownie was chocolatey and fudgy. I could have mixed the butter and the dry ingredients more thoroughly, because it tasted a bit crunchy. I could have cooked them longer, because they were very fudgy. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer my brownies a bit more on the cakey/crumbly side of the spectrum. And, of course, some chocolate chips thrown in would have been lovely.
These brownies are ridiculously easy. I think you would have to try really hard to mess them up, especially since you don’t have to deal with melting chocolate (scorching problems) or adding that chocolate to beaten eggs (scrambled often seems to be an issue). This is a perfect base recipe for a beginner or a reluctant box-user.
I think the Trader Joe’s ship has sailed. With Bon Appetit’s help, you too can defeat your boxed brownie addiction. Geesh, that sounded cheesy. But seriously. Try these. You won’t regret it. Or go back to brownie mix land.
Bon Appetit's Cocoa Brownies
from December 2012
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- Line an 8x8" dish with foil, pressing firmly in pan and leaving a 2" overhang. Grease foil.
- Whisk the sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Pour in butter in a steady stream, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and stir until just combined. Scrape batter into pan; smooth top.
- Bake at 325F until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, 25-30 minutes.
- Cool completely in pan. Using foil overhang, lift brownies out of pan. Cut into squares.