Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: Best Brownies Ever April 4, 2014

Nothing says decadent like a chocolate brownie with coffee ice cream!

Nothing says decadent like a chocolate brownie with coffee ice cream!

Our previous house had no dishwasher.  Oh, yes, it is definitely more eco-friendly to wash dishes by hand.  I know the statistics.  But I hate washing dishes.  On the other hand, I love eating, and I love cooking, which is why I’ve added another requirement to my test of a good dish:

  • Delicious taste   ×   
  • No processed food ingredients   ×   
  • Low dish to food quantity ratio  ×   

It’s quite difficult to achieve the last two in tandem, you see.  Dishes without many processed ingredients tend to require more measuring spoons, knives, cutting boards, prep bowls etc.  If I’m going to wash all those extra items, there had better be a large quantity of food to show for it–an entire crockpot of soup, for instance.

Here’s my homemade brownie recipe.  It meets all of the above criteria–no processed food and only as many dishes to wash as you would need for a boxed recipe (I figure if it’s not almost as easy and painless as a pre-made mix, no one will want to make it).  Also, this is the DOUBLED recipe for a 9×13 pan instead of 8×8, (remember, if you’re going to wash those dishes, you’d better get a lot of food to show for it!)  Here’s what you’ll need:

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* 9×13 pan * a pot large enough to mix in * a 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon * 1 c. measuring cup *wooden spoon

***WARNING: these brownies aren’t “healthy”–they’re just not processed or prepackaged.  Personally, I’m okay with lots of butter!

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 bag chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, mint chips or 1 c. nuts (optional)

The trick to making this with minimal dishes is doing it in the right order.  Here goes!

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Melt butter in pot on stove over medium heat.

2.  While waiting for butter to melt, rub the wrapper of the butter over your 9×13 pan to grease it.  Use the 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon to spoon a little flour into the pan and tap the pan on all sides, shaking the flour around to coat evenly.

3.  As soon as butter is melted, remove pot immediately from the heat.  In 1 c. measuring cup, measure out brown then white sugar  and stir into the melted butter (you can use 2 c. brown or 2 c. white to make it easier, but I like the taste of half and half).

4. Measure out the salt in the 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon, then the baking powder, and mix into the pot.  Then add the c. of flour (best to do this after the baking powder and salt to make sure those two ingredients mix evenly into the liquid first).

5. Using 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon to help scoop, fill your 1 c. measuring cup almost all the way full of cocoa powder (there’s no need to use a different measuring cup to be exact for the 2/3 c. of cocoa powder…after all, who objects to a little extra chocolate?).  Stir in cocoa powder.

6. Add in eggs (the other ingredients will have cooled the warm butter down enough not to cook the eggs…egg particles in brownies = yuck!).  Stir in the vanilla, 1/2 a tsp. at a time so you don’t have to dirty another measuring spoon (you can substitute 1 tsp. of peppermint extract for one of the tsp. of vanilla if you’re making mint brownies).

7.  Stir in chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, mint chips, or nuts (optional).  Pour into floured and greased 9×13 pan and bake for ~20 minutes (until little cracks show on top).

Bake until slight cracks show in the top crust (I burned brownies until I learned this trick!).

Bake until slight cracks show in the top crust (I burned brownies until I learned this trick!).

Now that I’ve made this recipe a few times, it’s almost as fast for me as a box recipe would be.  The prep time takes less than 10 minutes, and the dish washing time is the same as it would be for a box.  I’m just washing a pot instead of a mixing bowl, and I can feel a lot better about the ingredients!

 

 
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