Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy Undomesticated New Year!

It's a back-to-school, back-to-work, back-to-blogging sort of day. I think I'll ease back into this place slowly. In other words, I'll keep this post short and sweet. Very sweet.

I didn't do much cooking over the holidays. Instead, I grazed on appetizers and finger food at various holiday parties and satiated myself with festive cookies and cakes. On vacation in the Berkshires, we mostly ate out.

Brownies were the one exception. They became my my standard party gift -- cheaper and more satisfying than bringing booze. From Hanukkah to New Year's, I was the brownie lady. I found an effortless recipe from Food Network's "How to Boil Water: Life Beyond Takeout" that I can just about whip up from memory by now. But I'll jot it down here for you:



1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large cold eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour

Note: If you don't have enough light brown sugar, you can compensate with white sugar and vice versa.

Note #2: Splurge and buy genuine vanilla extract

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 -inch square metal or glass baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about an inch. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter in the microwave on 75% power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave until both are completely melted, about 2 minutes. You can do it the old fashioned way by heating in a saucepan on the stove, by why bother?

3. Stir the sugars, salt, adn vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and beat vigorously until fully incorporated (the batter should be thick and glossy). Add the flour and stir gently just until it disappears.

4. Pour batter into the pan and bake until the top is crispy -- about 40 to 50 minutes.

5. Cool brownies in the pan on the counter or a rack. Try not to nibble at them until they're fully cool. It won't be easy. Lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil as handles. Peel off the foil and cut brownies into squares.

Note: Feel free to add 1 cup of chopped nuts just as the flour gets mixed in.

There are so many different varieties of brownies. These fall into the classic, rich, gooey variety. They were a bit too dark (e.g. "grownup") in flavor for Jesse, but that meant more for the rest of the family.

I know everyone is griping about the pounds they packed on during the holidays, but do yourself a favor and try out these brownies. It will help get you through the mid-winter blahs.

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