Falsetti: You don’t need a box to make brownies
Nobody likes a zealot. I know people who hide behind their curtains when they see two nicely dressed women standing outside their doors holding pamphlets. Foodies are even worse, because they may be your best friend or your mother. Notwithstanding these warnings, I will engage in a short polemic on the advantages of making brownies from scratch.
Although they are somewhat convenient and certainly very cheap, brownies made from a boxed mix can’t hold a candle to homemade. All boxed baking mixes have to adhere to two guidelines: low cost and a long shelf life. To keep the price low, they use the cheapest ingredients. To ensure a long shelf life, they add preservatives and other ingredients that the home cook would never use. Their big selling point is a promise of minutes to prepare.
Making brownies from scratch is not rocket science. Legend has it that the first batch of brownies — a cross between a cake and a cookie — originated when a cook forgot to add the baking powder to a chocolate cake.
Homemade brownies require only two more steps than the box type: measuring the flour and sugar, and melting the chocolate and butter. If you use a microwave for the latter step, only one bowl is needed.
The recipe below makes two dozen brownies. It is adapted from Nick Malgieri’s recipe for Supernatural Brownies. The addition of brown sugar makes the brownies moist and fudgey. Although it won’t be the end of the world if you cut them immediately, it will be much easier if you let them rest overnight.
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
Before you begin, have all ingredients at room temperature. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter and line with parchment paper, overlapping slightly at the sides; grease the paper. This will eliminate any mess when removing the brownies from the pan.
Combine the butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until the butter and chocolate are melted. Let cool for a few minutes before proceeding.
Add the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt to the chocolate mixture, then whisk to combine. Fold in the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes.
Let cool, and then let rest covered overnight. The next day, lift out the brownies by the parchment paper handles. Cut into 2-inch squares.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.