Brownies

Confession: I really love brownies. In fact, I’d prefer to cut the brownies at my wedding instead of a cake. (Seriously…) Now, let’s get down into it. Boxed brownies are a good starting point, but why do boxed when you can make your own and mix it up a bit? I start up with the Hershey’s Best Brownies Recipe and then tinker with it to spice those brownies! 

(I don’t pretend to be a food blogger. I take the photos as I remember to in the process. Please don’t judge!)

Ingredients
(Stock Hershey recipe)

  • 1 cup (2 stick) of butter or margarine)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

My additions:
So… I don’t really care for a stock recipe. Sure, it’s tried and true, but I wanted MY brownies.

  • 2 additional teaspoons of homemade vanilla extract (recipe forthcoming)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

The recipe also calls for a “creamy brownie frosting,” but I’m not a big fan of frosting.

Step 1: Mis En Place

Mis en place is a french cooking term for “everything in its place.” I’m a huge proponent of lining everything up before you start. It really helps streamline everything and destress the baking process.

During step 1, you do the following things…

  1. Get out your leftover Indian food containers. (Seriously, those plastic containers are from years of ordering Indian takeout.)
  2. Get out your 1-cup dry measuring cup, your 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, your 1-teaspoon spoon, your 1/2-teaspoon spoon, and your 1/4 teaspoon spoon. (Yes, all those. If you’re good at fractions and have a dishwasher, you can also grab the 1/2-cup dry measuring cup.)
  3. Get our your flour, sugar, 2 sticks of butter, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking POWDER, salt, and (optional) nuts.
  4. Locate your 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Then take it out of its hiding spot. (I have to get the stool out first because it’s on the uppermost cabinet in the kitchen and I’m only of average height.)

Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Yes. That’s it. If you have a gas oven, check the temperature of your oven. Often gas ovens are not properly calibrated and don’t heat as consistently as an electric oven. This can cause your baked goods to be underdone. Sometimes, it really is the equipment and not you. 🙂

Step 3: Measure

  1. Measure out 1 cup of flour. Dump it in your mis en place container (aka, Indian take out container).
  2. Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Dump it in the flour container.
  3. Measure out 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Dump it in the flour container.
  4. Measure out 2 cups of sugar. Dump it in your second mis en place container.
  5. Crack your eggs into a mis en place container. NOTE: You will be adding these one at a time. If you are not able to pour only one egg at a time, use four separate containers. One for each egg. You will be mixing in the middle, so you don’t want to stop and crack and mix, stop and crack, and mix. Mis en place help make this better.
  6. Measure out the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Brownie mis en place

Brownie mis en place

Additions: If you are going to make any additions, measure those out now as well. I need to test out a Kahlua brownie recipe next. I put Kahlua in hot chocolate, so I think it should go in brownies. Ina Garten is a big fan of adding espresso to her baked chocolate goods because it deepens the cocoa flavor. I have yet to try this. No one in my house drinks coffee.

Step 4: Melt Butter

Method 1:

  1. Heat a pot on the stove and add the two stick of butter.
  2. Let the butter melt completely, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the melted butter from the heat. AKA: turn off the burner. If you’re on an electric cooktop, set the pan on a pot holder or one of those cork pads.
  4. Pour in the 2 pre-measured cups of sugar.
  5. Pour in the 2 pre-measured teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  6. Stir to combine. Note: This is when I added in the extra 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I’m not going to say you have to do this. I know vanilla is expensive, but we make our own from vanilla beans and alcohol. Plus, someone I know just happens to be a vanilla fiend!
  7. Add eggs. ONE AT A TIME. Beat well with a spoon after each addition. I used a wooden spoon.
  8. Add cocoa powder. Beat with a spoon until well blended.
  9. Add flour, baking powder, and salt mixture. (See why we put it all in one mis en place container?) Beat well until there are no white streaks.
  10. Add chopped nuts if you so desire.
  11. Add other additions. This is when I add in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Melted butter, sugar, and coca powder

Melted butter, sugar, and coca powder

Method 2: (Hershey’s Method)

  1. Use a large microwave safe bowl. (large enough to hold several cups and enable you to stir.)
  2. Place the butter in the microwave-safe bowl and nuke on medium (or 50% power) for 2 to 2/12 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Don’t forget to stir!
  3. Remove the bowl from the microwave.
  4. Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a spoon after each egg.
  6. Add cocoa powder and beat until well-blended. Meaning, no streaks of cocoa.
  7. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat well.
  8. Add nuts, if desired, and stir.

Step 5: Prep the Bakeware

Your 13x9x2-inch baking dish has been sitting on the side forlorn. Don’t worry!

Time to grease the pan! You can use some cooking spray and lightly spray the baking dish, or you can take a stick of butter and rub it along all sides and the bottom of the baking dish. It’s up to you. I prefer butter, but I’m a brownie fiend.

Step 6: Pour the batter!

Hopefully you’re getting excited by this point. you have a bunch of pre-brownies just sitting there. Time to pour the brownie batter into the baking dish. It’ll be pretty thin, but that will help it cook faster, which means you can eat it sooner. Make sure you scrap down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. You don’t want to miss any brownie goodness.

I also suggest tapping the bottom of the dish to release any bubbles up through the batter.

Brownie all poured our

Brownie all poured out

Step 7: Pop that baby in the oven!

The brownie baby… sheesh! Set a timer for 30 minutes.

Step 8: Sit on the floor and watch your brownies cook (or clean up)

I guess you don’t really have to sit on the floor and watch your brownies cook, but it’s hard to imagine there are more important or exciting things to do than wait for your brownies.

More adult things to do would be to clean up the kitchen. You do know, that as an adult, this gives you the right to lick clean the bowl and spatula. (I wait until I’m home alone to make brownies so I don’t get disapproving looks from some loved ones I could mention. Something something raw eggs and salmonella… NOTE: Eat brownie dough at your own risk.)

Don't eat the brown dough

Don’t eat the brownie dough (I don’t listen to myself)

Step 8: Remove Brownies from Oven

After the 30 minute timer goes off, check the brownies. The brownies should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. If they aren’t, leave them in for another 2-5 minutes.

If they are done, remove the brownies from the oven and bask in your gloriousness. You have made amazingly awesome brownies.

Set the brownies on a wire rack to cool and wait with impatience until they are cool enough to handle. (Depends on your heat tolerance, TBH.)

Cooked Glorious Brownies

Glorious Brownies

At this point, you can always had some frosting, eat them plain, or sneak them when your husband/partner isn’t around. If you’re feeling nice, you could even share with your loved ones.

Brownies

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 stick) of butter or margarine)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

I also added

  • 2 additional teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Grated fresh nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Gather your ingredients and measuring devices.
  2. Do your mis en place – measure out all of your ingredients before you start baking.
  3. Grease your baking dish.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Melt your butter, either in the microwave at 50% power for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or on the stovetop.
  6. Remove your melted butter from the heat.
  7. Stir in sugar and vanilla.
  8. Add eggs one at a time. Beat after each egg.
  9. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until well mixed.
  10. Add your additional spices, such as cinnamon or nutmeg. (Cloves?)
  11. Add your optional chopped nuts.
  12. Pour your brownie batter into the greased baking dish.
  13. Pop in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides.
  14. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks.

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