Ever since he started walking, E. has been really into helping around the house.
Every morning he helps unload the dishwasher and every afternoon we walk to the end of the driveway and I lift him up so that he can open the mailbox and pull out any mail.
When Paul puts on his shoes, E. helps with the laces. And more than once, when I am getting dressed, he has taken it upon himself to rummage through the dresser, pick out clean socks for me and reach up as high as he can to lay them out on the foot of the bed.
Whenever he hears me open the baby gate that blocks off the laundry room, he drops everything and comes running, calling, “Help laundry! Help laundry!”
On Saturday, we made brownies together. It was the first time he has really helped much in the kitchen. We lack a sturdy stool to help him reach the counter, so I measured everything out into little bowls and set them on the kitchen table so that E. could dump and stir.
He was thrilled.
That joint baking effort marked the third time in about a week that I made these brownies. Sadly I never managed to get a picture of the final product.
The first time I made them, the brownies turned out to be disappointingly thin. I didn’t bother snapping any pictures.
But, although I found them skimpy, several other aspects of the recipe really appealed to me. The taste and texture, for one thing, but also the ease with which they came together. A few minutes after I started thinking about dessert, I was sliding it into the oven.
I also loved that the recipe called for unsweetened chocolate. Because, when I buy bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, it seems to mysteriously disappear into my mouth one little chunk at a time before I have the chance to bake anything.
A good backstory never hurt either and legend has it this recipe originated with Katherine Hepburn.
I decided to make the brownies again, doubling the recipe but using the same size pan. I adjusted the baking time and threw in a little espresso powder too, which helps to amp up the chocolate flavor.
That batch was just about perfect: thick, rich and deeply chocolatey, with a slightly chewy texture and that coveted thin, crackly lid. They were gone before I snapped a single picture.
There was nothing to do but make them again, of course. The third time, they still tasted good, but they looked like a bit of a mess.
It would be easy to blame this on the baby’s haphazard mixing technique, but it likely has at least as much to do with the fact that I forgot to set an oven timer. Switching from metric to volume measurements may not have helped much either.
So after three batches of brownies, I still have no photographs with which to recommend them, but I can tell you that I am absolutely hooked. Fortunately, I have a great little kitchen helper, because I can foresee a lot more brownie baking in my future.
Adapted from David Lebovitz and a zillion other places) where it was apparently adapted from Katherine Hepburn.
David's recipe called for nuts and cocoa nibs, I omitted both but can't help thinking a handful of chocolate chips wouldn't be nice.
These brownies sit squarely in the middle of the cakey-fudgy spectrum. For a somewhat fudgier option, try these: Darn Good One-Bowl Brownies.
- 2 sticks (230 g) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces (120 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped.
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (70 g) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line an 8"x8" pan with aluminum foil. Butter the foil and set aside.
Put the butter and chocolate in a large mixing bowl and melt in the microwave, being careful not to let the chocolate burn. I do this in 30 second bursts. Conversely, melt in a double boiler or in a saucepan over very low heat.
Stir in the sugar and espresso powder. Then add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Finally, add the flour and salt, stirring until well combined.
Bake for 50 minutes or until the center has set. Remove from the oven and allow brownies to cool in the pan before cutting into squares.