I have always loved brownies. My mom made amazing brownies. Later, I learned they were from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, one she gave me when I got married.
Deliciously chewy, not cakey (too dry), when I made them, I underbaked the treat so they were even a tad wet inside.
I also doubled the batch and put them in a 9×12 pan; that helped the middle of the pan’s batter to be gooshier than the edges, which were never burnt because I took them out right when they smelled ready.
Yes, smelled ready.
I have a weird skill of being able to smell when baked goods are done cooking. Early, when I was learning to cook, I was meticulous with the time the recipe said to do. Then, as I got more relaxed, I realized that I could smell when things were done.
I remember baking brownies so often when the kids were little, I no longer needed the recipe. We always kept a decent stash of unsweetened chocolate squares, plenty of sugar and flour and, of course, butter!
In Germany, when I was with my new lesbian love (he was really transgender, but had not come out yet), I made brownies at least twice a week. Between brownies and snickerdoodles, I was nearly a specialty bakery. This was when I was baking bread, too. The years when we were isolated in Germany with very little to do but BE with each other remain some of my favorite memories of my life. The kids were hilarious, Zack and I were always nursing one or the other of the babies and I attended lots and lots of births.
Zack loves nuts, but I am allergic to them, so I would sometimes make the 8×8 pan recipe with nuts for him.
When my youngest was living with Zack and me in San Diego, it became clear that brownies were her PMS food of choice. The day before she started her period, she would break out a box of brownie mix, crying while she stirred it all together, and bake a batch that she alone would eat over the next 2 to 3 days. None of us ever asked for one; we knew better.
(I just asked her permission to add this information in my piece and she said she had no idea she did that, that she ate brownies all the time. I smiled into the phone and told her it was like clockwork, her brownie-baking-while-crying session.)
I rarely eat brownies anymore and I never make them. If I partake, someone has made them, always from a box.
The memories of mine are much sweeter.
My Brownie Recipe (really, Better Homes & Gardens’ recipe)
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped if desired
- Preheat oven to 350℉ (180℃).
- In medium saucepan melt butter and chocolate.
- Remove from heat; stir in sugar.
- Blend in eggs one at a time.
- Add vanilla. Stir in flour and nuts; mix well.
- Spread in greased 8x8x2-inch pan.
- Bake at 350℉ (180℃) for 30 minutes.
- Be careful not to overbake. Cool completely.
- Cut into 16 squares.