I learned how to bake way back in college. My sister bought an oven range and enrolled in short courses on baking with one or two of the country’s renowned chefs, in the hope to start a small business. As an accountant with a full-time job at a bank and as a mother to two kids and a wife, she had very limited time to pursue fully her business plans. With my interest to learn and help, however, she didn’t hesitate to pass on to me what she had learned from those classes. In time, she started taking orders from her workmates and friends, as well as some of their bank clients, and I would help her fulfill those orders.
For various reasons, I have stopped baking over the years until my daughters were old enough to bug me about baking them a cake or cookies. I suppose the idea came from the stories they would read and some of the shows they would watch on TV or the Internet. Since it has been a long time that I had not been baking anything from scratch and I do not have a copy of my sister’s recipes, I resorted to using store-bought cake mixes.
Alas, my daughters are now able to follow simple recipes and cook, including bake, by themselves. As much as I appreciate their efforts, I really wish I could teach them myself. I have recently made the decision to stop buying store-bought cake mixes and start baking something from scratch because that’s supposed to be healthier (and more economical). I have begun stocking our pantry then with various ingredients that we might need for baking breads, cookies, and cakes. And today, I simply could not put it off much longer. I wanted to bake something from scratch. I specifically wanted some chewy brownies.
I started looking up recipes online. If you must know, I’m not the type to settle on the first one Google would suggest or anything that would show a rating of 4–5 stars out of five. I tend to compare recipes, scrutinize the ingredients, read carefully the procedures, and yes, read the comments too. Hence, it took me a couple of hours just to find the kind of brownies I would want to make. I have also sent a message through Facebook to some of my friends, asking them to share with me their favorite brownie recipes. However, since it was taking a while for them to respond, I just continued on my search, and remembered to check out Pinterest–my sister’s advice.
I finally I came across sallysbakingaddiction.com via FoodGawker on Pinterest. I decided to give Sally’s recipe for Chewy Fudgy Homemade Brownies a try after reading the whole article on her website, which also explains in detail the importance of each ingredient and provides tips on how to attain that chewiness in brownies that I was craving for. What really made me decide to try it though was the line where she says that the recipe was borne out of a number of (sweet) trials and errors. I was able to relate to her immediately then and thought about the same thing I had to go through to come up with the creamy carbonara recipe that my family and friends truly appreciate and would even request for me to make at times.
So how did the brownies turn out? Lovely! They’re simply the chocolatiest brownies I’ve ever made or tasted and I was so thrilled because I made it from scratch. It must be because the recipe calls for the use of chocolate block instead of using only powdered cocoa. I didn’t really have enough chocolate block, so I added more cocoa powder than necessary to make up for it. And I’m glad it turned out well. My girls loved it, and I loved it too. In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever use another store-bought cake mix again! Moreover, as soon as I have bought another chocolate block, I’ll definitely teach my daughters how to make it themselves.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll never check out other brownie recipes. I hope I would be able to find one that would yield the same kind of brownies, but calls for cocoa powder only instead of a block of chocolate as well as chocolate chips. So, if you happen to have a favorite recipe, won’t you share it with me? Thanks. ❤
P.S. Here’s a copy of Sally’s Chewy Fudgy Homemade Brownies. I suggest you still visit her blog at sallysbakingaddiction.com though for the tips on how to make this and find other recipes. Enjoy!
“Chewy Fudgy Homemade Brownies
yield: 16-20 BROWNIES prep time: 25 MINUTES total time: 1 HOUR, 10 MINUTES PLUS COOLING
(Chewy fudgy homemade brownies made completely from scratch. Try them with chocolate frosting and sprinkles on top! You will never make a box mix again, trust me.)
1/2 cup (115g) salted butter1
8 ounces (228g) coarsely chopped quality semi-sweet chocolate2
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (80g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
2 Tablespoons (11g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Milk Chocolate Frosting (optional)
1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
salt, to taste
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Or melt in a medium microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring after each, in the microwave. Remove from the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl, and allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×9 inch square baking pan3 with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 35-36 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs when the brownies are done. All ovens are different, so keep an eye on them after 30 minutes and use the toothpick test to see when yours are finished.
Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once cooled, lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares. For neat squares, I use a very sharp knife and wipe it clean with a paper towel after each cut.
For the optional frosting: sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Frost the brownies before or after cutting into squares, whichever you prefer.
The brownies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
Make ahead tip: For longer storage, these brownies (both frosted and unfrosted) freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.