I’ve mentioned Mama here before. Formidable, didn’t stand for nonsense, wonderful cook. It stands to reason that her brownies would be much the same- no nonsense like caramel or candy. Just classic- chocolate and maybe some nuts. Now, as I’ve said, I never met Mama but I sometimes wonder if we would have gotten along. Because while I do often defer to those I love, I sometimes have to rebel. And I don’t think she would have appreciated it. Or maybe she would have acted irritated but secretly been proud of my willingness to stand up for and, ahem, assert myself.
So of course, I messed with her brownies. How could I not? Since I have no idea how she would have responded, I’ll let other family members make that call. Her brownies were very cake-like and, as I suspected, classic. I jazzed them up a bit with slightly more chocolate flavor and a hint of coffee– I’d like to think that I sort of enhanced their original incarnation. Again, I’ll have to let other family members who knew her (and therefore tasted her brownies) make that call.
For posterity’s sake, here’s her recipe verbatim: 3 eggs, 1 tsp. b. powder, 1 cup flour, nuts, 2 squares chocolate, 1 cup sugar, 1/8 lb. butter. Melt butter and chocolate. Add rest of ingredients. Bake 20 minutes in a moderate oven. Cool before cutting.
Mama’s Brownies (as messed with by me)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
2 squares chocolate (unsweetened or bittersweet)
1/8 of a pound of unsalted butter (That’s about half a stick)
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I use Ghirardelli)
2 teaspoons instant coffee (I used Nescafe Classico)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I think you could also add some roughly chopped pecans to this without harming them- it would give a nice texture. I didn’t have any on hand.
Preheat oven to 350. I assume this is what Mama meant by a “moderate” oven.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low to medium heat, depending on your patience level. I’m always impatient for brownies so I use higher heat. Just don’t let the chocolate scorch.
Once it’s melted, let it cool and then add the sugar, mixing to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. You really should mix all the dry ingredients together- you could even sift them together (minus the coffee powder) and then add them. I was lazy and just dumped it all in together. Mix it well and then pour into a buttered brownie pan. I used a shallow 8×8 square pan. I think it may even be the one Mama used since it’s been in the house since before I can remember.
Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out just barely wet– you don’t want it to completely dry out because then the brownies are overbaked and icky. Again, these rise a bit more than I expect brownies to rise- has to do with the number of eggs, I think- and don’t get much of that “crackle” effect on the top that I expect from brownies.
But they were pretty good. I think the whole pan was gone within two days. Which either says something about how tasty they were or how little self-control my household maintains. I’m going to go with tasty.