“Let there be Brownies…”
It seems as though brownies have always been, or at least they have always been to me. All other things in the pantry may run out but there was an unspoken rule in mom’s kitchen: Always keep brownie ingredients stocked. A “Browniepocalypse” would surely occur if supplies dwindled. I am guessing…because it NEVER happened.
If school was tough, days were hard, kids were bored, company was coming, it was hot, it was cold, someone was sick, a good grade was made, a bad grade was made – or someone just had a hankering’ – brownies would become.
I can’t even estimate how many times mom would say “can you go make a batch of brownies?”. Over the years, I have modified the recipe to fit my exact preferences. Specifically, I reduced the sugar and butter and increased the flour. I also adjusted the baking temperature and time. This yielded a moist, dense (non-greasy, non-cakey), fudge-like brownie. ((YUM!!))
That’s how it is in my home too. Whether we are in need of a school treat or a party sweet, brownies have saved me countless times.
My most recent “save” came last week when, mid cooking dinner, I realized I had missed Brod’s half-birthday, poor Brod. We are a half-birthday celebrating kind of family for a few reasons:
- Any excuse to eat cake works for me!
- Kids need to be celebrated ((or at least mine do)) – this is a perfect way to remind them they are special to me.
- It is a fun and quirky tradition that stick with them their whole lives.
- I am thankful for their months and their years.
- Kids change a lot in 6 months, it is fun to pause and take note of the changes.
“Did Brod know we forgot?? Was he just waiting to see how long it would take for me to remember? Did I break his heart? The middle boy always gets forgotten.” All of the words and more were chanting through my head.
“What about a cake?? What about a present??”…I had to fix this travesty immediately. Enter Brownies.
Within minutes, brownies were mixed and in the oven. For a special treat ((aka a guilt offering)) I also whipped up a batch of homemade Warm Almond Buttercream Frosting ((Heaven in a bowl – click the words Almond Buttercream to introduce yourself to the best frosting EVER)). I have to mention what happened when the warm buttercream met the warm (slightly undercooked) brownies. The frosting sunk through the warm brownie goo and in one swoop I had the most delicious brownie disaster this world has ever seen. But is was an ugly disaster nonetheless and I have the photos to prove it, haha.
Then I had an idea – a surprise late half-birthday!! “Would he believe I meant to delay his celebration in order to surprise him???” I pondered the thought.
The kids sat down for dinner and immediately questions began flying from their lips. “Why did you make brownies? Who are the brownies for? Do we get to eat the brownies? Are the brownies for dessert? Can I have a little brownie now? Who are the brownies for?” ((Oh I said that twice, but they asked it at least 15 times)).
Finally, I said “I am not telling.” haha, that quieted them ((or not)).
We ate dinner and the questions continued, but I just blinked, I am good at that – just ask David.
When dinner was over, I quietly stood and walked over to the dish of brownies, stuck candles in them and began to light each candle. Now questions and guesses were REALLY flying. There was a fury of excitement and ideas. Interestingly, no one guessed we were celebrating Brod – not even Brod. He had forgotten too. I felt a small twinge of relief, but guilt was still present…poor Brod!
I started singing, everyone joined in the singing. The anticipation of who they were singing too was almost too much. I slowly carried the lit brownies to the table. Everyone’s eyes were glistening with excitement. I paused – and with one grand swoop, plunked the dish right in front of Brod as I sang “Happy half-birthday to Brody!! Happy half-birthday to you!!”.
He was beyond surprised! He was shocked to the point of being startled. “Mom, you made my heart stop!! You scared me so bad! I can’t believe I forgot my OWN half-birthday! Hey!! You are a week late!?” he continued.
“Brod”, I said “How else could it be a surprise?? If we would have celebrated on your day – you would have expected it!!” and we all laughed.
“Mom, did you really remember and just wanted to surprise me??” he asked.
“No, Brod – I forgot!! I am so sorry!”, I said in shame.
“It’s okay mom, I love the surprise, you really got me!!” – that’s my boy.
So the next time you need a special treat in a pinch – these brownies will be sure to save the day!
- 1 & 1/3 sticks melted butter (I always use salted butter)
- 1 1/2 c pure cane sugar
- 6 heaping T cocoa powder (I use the best quality I can find - it makes difference)
- 2 eggs
- pinch of salt
- 2 t good vanilla extract (like McCormick))
- 1 1/2 c flour
- Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare an 8"x8" or 8"x11" glass baking dish by rubbing the bottom and sides with butter, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and coating the top of the parchment with butter.
- In a medium mixing bowl, melt butter and allow to cool to room temperature before continuing. Once butter has cooled, add sugar and cocoa powder. Stir until ingredients are completely combined and the mixture runs smooth.
- In a separate bowl crack each egg before adding it to the cocoa mixture. Stir until eggs are completely incorporated.
- Next, add salt & vanilla. Stir.
- Last, add flour. Stir lightly ((THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT)), be sure NOT to over mix. You will know it has been perfectly mixed when you are still able to see slight veins of white flour throughout. You do not want to mix until the flour is no longer visible.
- Bake in the oven for 35- 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs and the center doesn't jiggle when you give the dish a gentle shake.
- Remove from oven when baking is complete and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. If you are going to frost the brownies, allow them to cool completely before frosting.
- *This recipe easily doubles and a double batch fits perfectly into a 9"x13" glass baking dish.
Look at him! Brody is startled!! I chuckle every time I look at his right hand — he grabbed Kade because he was scared! ahha!! Happy Half-Birthday Brod!
Oh – and here is a close-up of the goo that occurred when warm buttercream met warm brownie – so good but SO ugly! oops!