Easy Brownies

Brownies have been my go-to treat throughout Baking in the Time of Coronavirus. Why? They’re incredibly easy to make, and these are probably the easiest recipe I’ve ever found. I omitted the frosting from these treats, which I found at Tastes Better from Scratch, so I could ship them off to Maryland.

These treats were baked especially for Mike’s young cousins, AJ and Tommy; their parents, our Uncle Al and Aunt Sam; and our Aunt Penny. Al and Penny are Mike’s mom’s youngest siblings, and they moved from suburban DC to a more rural part of Maryland a few months back. Mike helped with the move, and naturally I sent treats, which prompted the boys to ask if “Amy would bake for us too” on a more regular basis. Tommy said these brownies “taste like the stars,” which I take as high praise indeed. They are delightfully fudgy with a crackly top, exactly how a brownie should be.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking tin; I always sprinkle the bottom of the tin with sugar when I’m baking brownies for a crunch bottom crust.

In a mixing bowl, stir together oil and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in cocoa powder, then salt, flour, and vanilla until the batter is smooth.

Pour into the baking tin and spread into an even layer. Bake for 30-34 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. These brownies are fudgy, but shouldn’t be too gooey in the middle when they’re done; the center will look mostly set on top.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting; store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 24.

One-Bowl Brownies

one-bowl-browniesI imagine that one-bowl recipes evolved out of necessity, with a busy baker looking to cut down time on dish washing. When you live without a dishwasher as I do, you welcome such recipes, especially when you also only need one measuring cup, one spoon, and one spatula for them.

This original recipe came from a box of Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, which I usually have on hand in my pantry cabinet. I adapted it to include walnuts and chocolate chips for some fun texture, but you could certainly leave them plain if you’re not a nuts-in-brownies kind of person. While I’m not longer able to eat chocolate because of migraines, I continue to bake with it for my friends and family. Sometimes, simply breathing in the delightful scent of cocoa is all you need.

Ingredients

  • 4-ounce package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pats
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil, extending over the sides, and spray the foil with baking spray.

Roughly chop chocolate and combine with butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1-minute intervals until the butter and chocolate are completely melted, stirring frequently.

Add sugar and stir to combine; the texture will be sandy, and that’s fine. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Stir in flour, then walnuts, then chocolate chips. Using a rubber spatula, pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few fudgy crumbs; be careful not to over-bake.

Cool completely in pan, then lift out using the foil as handles. Cut into 24 bars.

Note: you’ll want to use a small offset spatula to separate the bottoms of the brownies from the foil after you’ve cut them. Next time, I’ll add a fine layer of sugar to the bottom of my pan to help keep them from sticking.