I think by now we have all dispensed with the notion that “fat free” foods have any value at all as a weight control vehicle. They don’t taste good, inevitably fail to satisfy, lead to over eating, and when purchased as processed foods contain substances better suited to house cleaning than eating. And you know how I feel about cleaning.
Still, there are times when we want a little something, so we whip up a batch of brownies, or cookies, or a full size jelly roll with whipped cream, chocolate ganache and sour cherry jam, then proceed to consume not one portion, but the lion’s share, if not the entire thing. A la mode. Admit it. It’s the first step to recovery, or so I am told.
This is why there’s a place for the single serving sweet, if only we could find one that satisfies. Imagine: you nuke it up, consume it standing over the sink, throw the dish in dishwasher and are able to immediately back away from the kitchen, smug in your self-control and secure in the knowledge that this will be worked off as soon as you start using that very expensive gym membership you bought last year. (Some say that just having the membership burns the odd calorie, but I have so far been unable to prove that, try as I might.)
I feel about brownies from a mix much the same as Joan Crawford, at least as rendered by Faye Dunaway, did about cheap closet accessories. I loathe them. Ok, OK, I hear you. You’re scratching your head, your brow is furrowed and you say to yourself in a perplexed way, “But I thought she said use a mix for pie crust.”
“It’s HARDER to bake from scratch,” you whine. “What’s up with this crazy bitch anyway? Why can’t she make up her mind?”
It’s all about cost/benefit. Pie crust is hard to make and can easily go wrong, way way wrong. I have found one mix that almost never fails and tastes pretty good, so I use it.
Brownies, however, are a different story. Why? It is ridiculously easy to make de-licious, fudgy brownies if you use my recipe. They always, ALWAYS come out right and they taste infinitely better than that crap in a box, and I don’t care if it’s made with fancy Italian chocolate. Still gross.
I found this recipe in an issue of Ladies Home Journal at Grammie Sue’s house about 25 years ago, and it has never failed me. By happy coincidence, it comes from the queen of all movie stars, and my all time favorite actress, Katharine Hepburn. The magazine featured an interview with her, which explains why I picked it up in the first place, as I was really more of a Spy magazine girl at the time. Oh shit, who am I kidding, on the odd occasions I could get my ass off a barstool, all I ever bothered to read was National Lampoon at that point in my life. Spy was too highbrow. Anyways, what the LHJ interview lacked in dirt on Kate and Spenc-ah, it more than made up for with this fabulous recipe. Hundreds of satisfied dinner guests and half a dozen voluntary sugar comas can’t be wrong!
Melt over low heat:
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
- 2 squares (or 2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, best you can find, though Baker’s brand is fine
In a bowl, whisk:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (pure, not that nasty imitation stuff – might as well use a mix if that’s all you’ve got. For variety, you can substitute pure almond extract for the vanilla. Party on!)
Once the butter and chocolate are melted, slowly add the mixture to the egg mixture, whisking all the time. DO NOT just dump the hot chocolate in all at once, no matter how much you want to. You could end up with scrambled eggs.
After that’s mixed, add:
- ¼ cup flour (no more!)
- ¼ tsp salt (do not omit this! Sweetness unbalanced by salt is not worth the calories.)
Stir it until it’s blended, then dump the batter into a greased and floured, square baking dish (8” x 8” or so). Scrape the leftover batter into the pan or into your mouth. At this point do I have to tell you which I’d choose?
Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. Mine runs a little hot and I dislike overcooked baked goods, so I do about 30 minutes.
And listen, Christina, if you invite me over for dessert and serve these brownies with walnuts, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. I have been known travel with an axe from time to time. It won’t be you I’m mad at, of course, it’ll be the nuts.