When I was in college, my mother and a family friend conspired to convince me that brownies from scratch are not that much more work than brownies from a box, and they taste quite a bit better. They were right, of course, and that opinion shows that their little plan worked. Now, when I think of making brownies, brownie mix never crosses my mind. (Well, apparently it does, as I have just mentioned it, but perhaps you get the idea.)
This made for an especially good result one time last fall, when the PP and I went to dinner at a neighbor's house, and we brought brownies. One of the other guests said she could never eat brownies because she was allergic to cottonseed oil, and pretty much all the mixes include it. AHA! I said, but these are not from a mix, and I listed off the ingredients. So she had one. And she loved it.
Tonight we are headed to her house for a Superbowl party, so I am making the brownies again. Besides, I have recently found myself in possession of what experts agree is a shitload of good chocolate, thanks to a friend who was looking out for me back at the time of my surgery. So brownies are the perfect thing, especially when they can involve excellent super-dark chocolate.
Furthermore, the Superbowl party in question has a bit of a Mardi Gras theme to it. Longtime readers of this blog will know that there is exactly one thing that I associate with that holiday, and that I spend pretty much every Mardi Gras mourning their lack. This is not the spirit of Mardi Gras, I know, so this year I am trying to think metaphorically. If the idea of the paczki is to make something that uses up such goodies as eggs and butter (or really, lard), then my brownies get into the Mardi Gras spirit!
The basis of my brownies comes from a recipe from Laurie Colwin, who claims that she got it from a friend who claims to have gotten it from a magazine article claiming it was Katharine Hepburn's family recipe. As Laurie says, "If there were no other reason to admire Katharine Hepburn, this pan of brownies would be enough to make you worship her."
FAT TUESDAY (and also my fat ass) BROWNIES
2 sticks butter*
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate*
2 cups sugar*
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 bag Ghiradelli white chocolate chips
as much additional chocolate as you can stand, chopped**
[*I substituted quite dark (70% cacao) chocolate for the unsweetened. That means I also reduced the butter by 1 1/3 teaspoon and the sugar by 4 tablespoons.]
[**By "chopped," I really mean beaten into smaller bits using the back of an ice cream scoop.]
Preheat oven to 325 and butter and flour a 13x9 pan. Melt butter and chocolate in a sizable saucepan on your stove (this saucepan will become your mixing bowl). Remove from heat and add sugar. Then add vanilla and eggs (make sure the mixture is a bit cooled first, so you don't cook the eggs). Then add flour and salt. Then add white chocolate chips and all the dark chocolate bits you think you can get away with without your guests complaining. Pour the chocolatey goodness into buttered and floured 13x9 pan and bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Don't even hope that a tester will come out clean, since there is so much additional chocolate in there.