One-bowl (really, one-saucepan) brownies are one of the first baked treats I learned to make on my own. My mom and I made brownies together with such frequency that once I was allowed to man the stove by myself, our family-recipe brownies were my fail-safe choice. They were a simple combination of a stick of butter melted with two ounces of unsweetened chocolate, with a cup of sugar, 1.5 eggs (yes, 1.5), a teaspoon of vanilla and a cup of flour all poured into an 8×8 or 9×9 pan and ready for devouring in 20 or so minutes. Eventually, they became my oh-dear-God-I-NEED-chocolate-RIGHT-NOW brownies, because they are so easy to whip up, and because the combination of salted butter, chocolate, and sugar (before you add the eggs) is, I think, better than cookie dough. Yes, I said it.
The chocolate base in my mom’s traditional brownies has always been Baker’s unsweetened chocolate blocks. They were a staple in our kitchen throughout my childhood, and I learned very quickly that even if it smells like chocolate and looks like chocolate, it tastes like bitter, bitter disappointment. I had a gleeful I-told-you-so moment with my best friend in 7th grade when she grabbed a cube and insisted that it would be delicious, because it was chocolate, for goodness’ sake. She tried valiantly to eat the whole thing to prove me wrong, but not even stubborn tweens can get through a one-ounce hunk of unsweetened chocolate.
Anyway, my point is that the butter-sugar-unsweetened chocolate mixture is the holy trinity of the recipe I’ve been using for twenty years, but recently, I started experimenting a little.
And I made it better.
That’s a big statement from me, people, because my family recipe brownies have ever been my favorite brownies in the whole wide world. I’ve tried fancier, richer, more chocolate-y brownie recipes. I’ve tried two-bowl recipes, three-bowl recipes. I’ve tried 8-ounces-of-chocolate-in-a-little-square-pan brownie recipes. And I’ve always gone back to my family favorite. And I probably will again, because it’s easy, and always always good.
But with a few (admittedly very minor) tweaks, I’m pretty sure I’ve created my best brownies ever. A little more chocolate, a little more egg, a little less flour. They are not crammed full of butter and chocolate, but they taste like they are. They are just the family recipe, glammed up for a night on the town.
Try them. Cut them into little pieces. Refrigerate them. You’ll see.
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 ounce high-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger)
1/2 C. salted butter
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C. flour
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.
In a saucepan over low-to-medium heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring frequently. You could probably be a purist and use a double-boiler for this step, but I’ve never had a problem with scorched chocolate. Once your butter & chocolate are melted and smooth, remove the pan from heat and stir in one cup of sugar. (Taste this combination. If you have an incorrigible sweet tooth like I do, you will love it. If you don’t, well, I feel sorry for you.)
In a small bowl, beat eggs well. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and stir quickly. Add vanilla. Gently stir in flour until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with crumbs still clinging to it.
Cool, cut, and eat. Or eat before they’re cool. You’re welcome to do that, you know. (But do try them chilled — I put these in the fridge after I cut them and they turned into little fudgy squares of awesome.)
Don’t kind of wish those fingers were yours, reaching for a brownie?