This is more than a recipe – it has become a way of life. Perhaps it started when our friend Robin (this time a woman) came to visit our week-old Elizabeth, bearing a double batch of freshly baked brownies. I can never forget the image of her kissing our bundle of baby in a room scented with chocolate. It was the first time I realised what a beautiful gift of the person, and the power of connectedness, was embraced in a home-baked dish.
Since then Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book and I have made brownies for all sorts of occasions – when technicians and mechanics are too embarrassed to charge for a miniscule amount of expertise to fix my (to me gargantuan) problems, for celebratory new jobs, or house moves or birthdays or anniversaries or welcome homes, as well as condolences on lost jobs, house break-ins and deceased pets. People say these are good, and ask me for the recipe. But they still are not as good as our neighbour Bethany’s brownies.
(This is a recipe for a double batch because it’s a waste of time to make just one.)
Oven 140 degrees C max (350 F max). Mix together 8 oz (1 cup) butter with l lb (2 cups) sugar, 4 eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla until smooth and lovely. (A food processor whizzes this up in no time.) Add 4 ozs (1 cup) cocoa, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt and mix until smooth and lovely. Add 1 cup (or more) walnuts or other nuts, and chocolate chips (2 packets if you live in UK, and 1 healthy package if you live in USA). Spread in a well-greased roasting pan (or 13 x 9 “ for deep brownies) or use baking parchment (my preference). Bake 30 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. The top will be dull, and not quite as cooked as a cake. In fact, squidgy brownies are great. Cool in the pan until you can cut into squares the size you desire. (I usually get 48 brownies out of a double batch.) They are freeze-friendly. My colleague says that they are “gorgeous” if you zap a brownie in the microwave for 10 seconds.