Brownies Cockaigne

I don’t do a lot of baking any more.  Mostly I don’t want a lot of cookies, cakes, pies and brownies around the house where there’s only me to eat them.  I do a little more dessert baking in the summer because there are lots of dinners with friends and desserts are always a crowd pleaser.  Today I decided to try a new brownie recipe.  I have some friends coming for dinner who will be happy to be the guinea pigs I’m sure.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against box brownies.  I am especially partial to the Ghirardelli box brownies that you can get at Costco.  But I didn’t have any of those and I’m forever in search of a recipe that makes brownies as good as the ones you make from a mix.  I understand that Ina Garten has a fantastic recipe, but it makes a TON and as far as I know the crew of the USS Eisenhower isn’t coming by for dessert.

I decided to consult The Joy of Cooking.  If you have much interest in cooking, and you must because you’re reading this, you should have a copy of this book.  It’s much, much more than just a cookbook.  The recipes are laid out with all of the helps, tips and specific instructions written in with the list of ingredients.  It’s actually a much more logical way to lay things out than having a list of ingredients following by paragraphs of instructions.  That said, it’s a little harder to make a shopping list, though the ingredients are in bold so it’s not too bad.  And you absolutely must read the recipe all the way through before you start.  A good habit to get in to regardless.  I find this format particularly helpful for baking.

As you probably know baking is really where food and chemistry meet.  Now, any of you who were compatriots of mine in high school chemistry may be surprised that I would even attempt anything related to chemistry in any way.  I’m pretty sure that a year with me nearly prompted Mr.  Curry, a veteran teacher of the highest order, to light every Bunsen burner and just wait for the whole lab to explode.  Perhaps I’m just a little more motivated by the idea of brownies than the idea of covalent bonding, not that I have any idea what that is.  So, on to the recipe.  No substitutions and very careful measuring – critical elements for novice bakers such as myself.  That said, of course I made a substitution anyway.  The recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, but I have a giant block of gourmet bittersweet chocolate that I really wanted to use so I did.  I cut the sugar by 1/2 C to balance out the added sugar in the chocolate. Oh, and I left out the pecans because they’re gross.  Next time I might replace them with chocolate or peanut butter chips.

The recipe says it makes 30 brownies, but I think not.  Even if you cut them small you get 18 tops.  And who wants small brownies?  The recipe also suggests that you serve them garnished with whipped cream or icing.  I say a glass of milk from your local dairy is all you need.  Many thanks to Homestead Creamery (and Kroger) for providing the perfect accompaniment.

Good? Duh, they’re brownies.
Easy? Not really, but it makes me feel like a gourmet to make them.
Good for company? Duh, they’re brownies.
Special shopping? Nope.

Brownies Cockaigne

Joy of Cooking, 1975, page 703


Description: “Almost everyone wants to make this classic American confection. We guarantee good results if you follow the -> signals. Brownies may vary greatly in richness and contain anywhere from 1 1/2 cups of butter and 5 ounces of chocolate to 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 ounces of chocolate for every cup of flour. If you want them chewy and moist, use a 9×13″ pan; if cakey, use a 9×9″ pan. We love the following.”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt in a double boiler:
1/2 cup butter
4 oz. chocolate
->Cool this mixture. If you don’t, your brownies will be heavy and dry. Beat until ->light in color and foamy in texture:
4 eggs ->at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add->gradually and continue beating until well creamed:
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
With a few swift strokes, combine the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar.
->Even if you normally use an electric mixer, do this manually. Before the mixture becomes uniformly colored, fold in, again by hand:
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
And before the mixture is uniformly colored, stir in gently:
1 cup pecan meats
Bake in a 9×13″ pan for about 25 minutes. Cut when cool.

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One Response to “Brownies Cockaigne”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Sounds yummy. And maybe not too dinner than Ina Garten’s except for the amount that it makes and she uses espresso powder. Oh, and because it calls or a full pound of butter you have to chill them over night. This sounds like a nice recipe for when you don’t want to plan days in advance.

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