There is nothing more plain yet more tasty, in my opinion, than a good old-fashioned brownie. One of the best things about brownies is that they don’t take any ingredients that most bakers are unlikely to have in their cupboards. That means they can be whipped up fairly quickly without a lot of advance planning and a trip to the supermarket. They can also be eaten plain or dolled up with a dob of icing and a piece of maraschino cherry or they can be iced all over.
Brownies have stood the test of time and remain a perennial favorite. Even today, you are likely to still find brownies gracing sweet trays on refreshment tables at events….and they are rarely the last pieces left standing on the plates.
I have a few tips to making brownies:
- Use a good quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder. It really does make a difference in the taste and it gives the brownie a nice, rich, dark chocolate color.
- Don’t over-beat or over-mix the ingredients. Just mix them enough so they are incorporated.
- Don’t over-bake the brownies as it will make them dry. Bake them just until a cake tester comes out clean and they show signs of pulling away from the sides of the pan.
I like to line my baking pans with either parchment paper or tin foil and leave enough of a hang-over on the sides that I can easily lift the entire square out of the pan. This makes it very easy to cut squares.
These are not the gooey, fudge-like brownies. They are more of a cake-type brownie. They hold up well when you pick them up and they have exceptionally good flavor contingent, of course, on using a good quality chocolate.
½ cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To prepare 8”x8” square pan, line with tin foil and spray with cooking oil. Set aside.
Cream shortening and white sugar together.
Mix cocoa and boiling water together until smooth and lump-free. Add to shortening-sugar mixture and beat until incorporated.
Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix together well.
Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder together.
Transfer batter to prepared baking pan. Spread evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester inserted into centre of brownie comes out clean and sides of brownie shows signs of pulling away from the pan. Let brownie rest in pan for about ten minutes then, using the edges of the tin foil as handles, gently remove the brownie from the pan and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
When completely cool, cut into squares and ice each square with a dob of icing and decorate with a piece of maraschino cherry, if desired.
NOTE: These brownies may also be baked in a 9”x9” pan for about 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted into centre of brownie comes out clean and sides of brownie show signs of pulling away from the pan. Baking them in a 9″x9″ pan will yield more dainty brownies.
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