I’m really not a fancy girl when it comes to my desserts. Elaborate, complicated sweets and pastries don’t really tempt me all that much. True, I drool and gape at the show Unique Sweets on Cooking Channel just like everyone else (it’s foodporn, it’s what it’s there for) but I probably wouldn’t actually buy more than half of the food that they feature. I can only take so much of extremely rich desserts like tiramisu, cheesecake, or mousse- and by ‘so much’, I mean take little more than 2 to 3 bites, then be ready to pass it to someone else. I just don’t care for those types of desserts that much.
When it comes to desserts, I’m one of those people that believe that sometimes less is just so much more. I don’t see the point or need to take a classic, traditional dessert and try to transform or modernize it. This isn’t Kitchen Stadium. I’m not competing against an Iron Chef (something I have absolutely no desire or the least bit of confidence to do anyway). I’ll leave all the fancy ‘techniques’ and bells and whistles to the Bobby Flays and Michael Symons of the culinary world. You guys will just have to content yourselves with simpler way of cooking and my even simpler tastes for those foods we all love. Brownies are one of them. I know that there are a million and one recipes out there that have elevated the brownie- turtle brownies, cheesecake brownies, fudge brownies, red velvet brownies, dark chocolate brownies- the list goes on and on, and I’m sure they all taste pretty terrific. But to this day, I still feel as though the best tasting brownie, is a simple, plain milk chocolate brownie with a smattering of nuts in batter for texture. Oh, and as a habit, I also prefer to eat the corner brownies- the ones that have a slight crustiness to them at the edges that complements the soft, chewy middle. I’ve got it down to a science, guys.
My older sister, Ashley (the one I made these meat pies for) really isn’t a huge sweets kind of person. She really didn’t even like to have my mom bake her birthday cakes when we were growing up. I know. I don’t understand either. Some things in life just defy explanation: My hair self- destructs in summer humidity. Every time Kim Kardashian sneezes, she makes a headline. And Ashley isn’t a fan of cake. I don’t have a logical explanation for any of those things, but I’ve learned to adjust.
Ashley does however, like brownies. A lot. In fact, brownies were what she eventually started asking my mom to bake for her instead of a birthday cake. They’re also what she’s been asking me to make for the past two weeks or so. So I did.
Good news: these brownies are really hard to screw up. Like really, really hard to screw up. You’d pretty much have to deliberately leave out one of the recipe steps in order for these not to turn out. And no, it’s not because they’re coming out of a box. They’re from scratch- and they’re still ridiculously easy. Who better to get a chocolate brownie recipe from than the most famous name in the chocolate business in the world? This recipe comes from an old Hershey’s cookbook of my mom’s that I found. I only made minor adjustments to it to fit my needs and preferences: as a rule, whenever I made brownies or blondies, I ALWAYS line the pan with a piece of greased parchment paper. This will make life SO much easier when taking them out and cutting them into squares. (Because no matter how well you grease or spray the pan, there’s always going to be a spot that has to be scrubbed- unless you use the parchment paper trick).
Second, I added 1/2 cup of nuts to the batter just because Ashley loves nuts with her brownies. I actually don’t think I added enough, so next time I think I’ll go for 3/4 a cup- keep that in mind if you’re a nut lover. Lastly, I’m sure this is going to be self-explanatory for most of you, but I’ll go ahead and just say it anyway just in case: don’t use your electric mixer for brownies. Your arm and a wooden spoon will get her done just fine. Now, you don’t have a wooden spoon? No big deal, a large regular one will work in a pinch. If you do have a wooden spoon though, I’d recommend using it. Just don’t bust out a mixer. Kay?
FEED(ME)BACK: What’s one simple, classic dessert that you like with no bells or whistles?
Ultimate Chocolate Brownies
Recipe Adapted from Hershey’s Best-Loved Recipes
- 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and divided
- 1.2 cup boiling water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan with shortening. Place a layer of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, and grease with shortening as well.
2. Stir together cocoa and baking soda in large bowl with a wooden spoon; stir in 1/3 cup butter.
3. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens.
4. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; stir until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly to all four corners with a spatula.
5. Bake 30-35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.