One of my absolute favorite things to do is cook for other people – especially baking goodies. There are times when nothing will do but chocolate. There is comfort in it, there are lifetime memories associated with it, chocolate is love.
I was asked to bring “brownies or something” to Paul’s celebration of life tomorrow. I immediately knew the recipe I would use. For years I had a reputation with my family members (especially my children) that I was the master of disaster when it came to baking brownies. As the girls got older they would bake brownies often using a mix. They had no trouble at all. Me, well let’s just say if it comes out of a box I am completely incompetent. I would burn them, or they were so undercooked they would be inedible. I think it was because I followed the directions, messed up and then over compensated on the next try. Amanda had it down, knocked off a couple of minutes for the particular pan she was using and they always came out perfect.
I took this as a challenge in the back of my mind, one day I would conquer my relationship with brownies. I read this recipe years ago in Yankee Magazine and it completely changed my outlook on brownies. It’s called Julie’s Brownies and really is the best recipe ever – deep chocolate, sugar crust, brownie perfection. The only caveat is it makes a HUGE batch.
The recipe starts off with 8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and 3 sticks of butter set on low heat to melt together. I once made the mistake of using semisweet and although it was a near disaster there were many people who liked their cloying sweetness. (I wasn’t kidding about my problem with brownies).
While the chocolate/butter is melting butter your pan and sprinkle it with sugar. I just dump a mound in the middle of the pan and shake it around until the pan is coated, then dump the excess in the sink.
This has such a wonderful smell while it’s heating through. Once melted let it cool to room temperature.
Now I know not everyone likes walnuts in their brownies (or anywhere for that matter) so I chop about 3/4 of a cup to be sprinkled on half of the pan, this way everyone is happy. I buy walnuts and pecans in bulk, use a vacu-sealer and freeze a cup and a half per bag. I always have nuts for that impromptu baking session. That nut grinder? If you don’t have one get one, they are awesome and go right into the dishwasher.
Half a dozen eggs go into the stand mixer.
Along with 3 1/2 cups of sugar. You read right, 3 1/2. I measure carefully knowing this is another potential hazard for me – losing count.
Once the eggs and sugar are mixed you add the vanilla. I made this for Christmas presents a couple of years ago – it is amazing. There’s another disaster story that goes along with this. One time I was making these brownies, grabbed the orange extract and put in the two teaspoons – aarrgh. Those were an epic fail.
The chocolate/butter is added, then the flour and mixed until just combined.
Then poured into that nice sugar coated pan. This is a 12 x 17 jelly roll pan. That’s a lot of brownies my friends.
Before they go into the oven I sprinkle on the nuts. These look delicious and smell heavenly while baking.
And here they are out of the oven, perfect. Once cooled I will cut them into squares and arrange them in a basket to be delivered to the church tomorrow. Some of the people I love the most will be there and even though they probably won’t give a thought to who made the brownies I will know how much love was put into them.