Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"you fixed me up something that was good for my soul"

the food: Best Brownies
the song:  "Hey Mama" Kayne West (insert obligatory "I'mma let you finish" joke here)

Part of the fun of cooking- especially when you're going to be writing about it later- is experimenting with new recipes, ingredients, and tastes. I obsessively began searching for the world's best vegetarian chili recipe last night to make on Thursday when we will (hopefully) watch UT beat Alabama (I still haven't found the one I'm going to use, by the way). Anyway, at some point you realize there are endless recipes for EVERYTHING, and you really could search and tweak ingredients forever.

But every now and then, you hit upon something that's as close to perfect as you can get. A recipe that, upon first tasting, you feel like "ok, that's it. I'll never need to search for another ____ recipe as long as I live." When my much beloved mom shared her world famous brownie recipe with me this Christmas, my heart did a little flip-flop, and I had that moment.

 Mix, mix, mix.

Now, I admit that I'm fully biased in saying all this. My mom has been making these brownies for me since I was a kid, and her mom (my beautiful Maw-Maw, who just celebrated her 86th birthday!) has been making these brownies since my mom was a kid. Both of these women are so talented in the kitchen, so it stands to reason that they wouldn't spend years of their lives making sub-par brownies. These are simple to make and delicious. They are everything a brownie should be- nothing too fancy to take away from the chocolate. All that's needed is a big glass of cold milk.

When my mom sent this to me, she spent some time adding her own notes, which makes the recipe so much more special. No chance I could say it better than her, so I won't even try.
Ok, Em, here's the family brownie recipe. It's quick, it's easy, and it never fails to get rave reviews (especially if they are just out of the oven!) 

I’ve probably made hundreds (maybe thousands!) of pans of these brownies in my life, and I never thought anything could improve on them…and that’s really true, but for the first time ever (on the advice of a friend), I added ½ tsp cinnamon to my brownie recipe. It was really very nice.  I’ve also experimented with things like pecans and chocolate chips. They’re really good that way, too.  Once I iced them with some left-over cream cheese icing that I had used on a red velvet cake.  That was pretty wonderful, too! 

Now it's your turn to start making and sharing this recipe! 

 About to go in the oven.*
1 stick butter
6 TBLS cocoa
1 cup sugar

2 eggs
¾ cup flour (I’ve never used anything but white flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a mixing bowl.  Add cocoa and sugar and stir.  Add eggs and stir some more.  Sift flour, salt, & baking powder together and add to cocoa mixture.  Stir well. (You can use a hand mixer, but I never do.) Finally, stir in the vanilla.  Pour into an 11 x 7 x 2” brownie pan that’s been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. (In my oven it’s 18 minutes**, but you’ll know they are done if you stick a toothpick in the center of the pan and it’s sticky but doesn’t stick to the toothpick.)

Icing for Brownies

1 cup white powdered sugar
½ stick butter
1 TBLS (or more) canned milk (like Carnation)
2 TBLS cocoa
½ tsp  vanilla 

Melt butter in mixing bowl.  Add milk and stir.  Sift and stir powdered sugar into butter/milk mixture.  Keep stirring until smooth and creamy.  You may want to add a little more canned milk here.  Add the cocoa and stir it in.  Stir in vanilla. 

I always cool the brownies on a rack before icing—unless I want warm brownies!!!  They are a little harder to ice when they are warm, but it’s worth it.  

*Can you believe I didn't get a picture of the finished product? We were out the door for holiday adventures almost as soon as these came out of the oven. We took them to my mother-in-law for Christmas Eve dinner. Once they were sliced, there was no chance I was going to ask everyone to wait so I could get a picture. We just ate them.

**18 minutes was dead-on in my oven, too. So it's probably best to just trust my mom on this one.
Well, great. Just as the holiday sweets in my house are finally starting to dwindle, I'm considering making a batch of brownies after re-reading this recipe. I haven't even had lunch yet!

Thanks to my lovely mom for this time-honored recipe. I'm proud to carry out the chocolatey tradition.


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