Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chewy Brownies: a Tribute to my Mother

Chewy Brownies: a Tribute to my Mother.

My mother was a wonderful cook and baker; our dinner table was  properly set, and the food was appealing  and delicious.  Her pet peeve was a plate that had no color balance, hence the paprika shaker and the fresh parsley were always at hand. (I once was taken to dinner in Philadelphia by a friend who was anxious for me to try his newest dining find. My dinner plate was fish, mashed potatoes and cauliflower, sans even those simple garnishes. I could hardly keep from laughing out loud, remembering my mother's rules.)

And some things have stayed in the family forever, including this recipe for Chewy Brownies, unlike any I have ever seen printed anywhere. When I went to shop for this blog, I was so pleased to find so many of the same labels available that she had used so many years ago.

No, we didn't have "organic Dark Brown Sugar", so she just used whatever dark brown came in a box, and our eggs were not brown eggs, but they did come from a very nice farmer named Ivan G. Little (Mother and I used to refer to him as "Mr. Gee, Ivan") who came into Baltimore every Friday with eggs and poultry. But all those other labels are the old familiar ones: Hershey's Baking Chocolate, Diamond Walnuts, Gold Medal Flour, McCormick's Pure Vanilla. And that is the total list of ingredients. Here's the method...(quantities listed at the end of this blog)

Heat the chocolate in a small heavy-bottomed pot (many recipes say "over boiling water" so as not to scorch; I find this works just as well). At the same time, chop walnuts (don't buy already chopped walnuts, they will never be as fresh).

Beat eggs and brown sugar well, add vanilla, then the melted, cooled chocolate. Then just fold in the flour until it is mixed and no white showing (but do NOT beat well at this point; this batter is like muffin batter and overbeating will make the final results tough). Then fold in the nuts.

Pour batter into baking pan lined with parchment paper (this wasn't even around in my mother's day; it's a vast improvement over greasing and flouring pans for any kind of baking). Scatter reserved nuts on the top, and bake at 350°, roughly 20-25 minutes. A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean, but  just barely: these are chewy...if you overbake, they will become too dry and cake-y (if that happens, save the whole thing, and make an ice cream cake, layering this with vanilla and coffee ice cream).

When the pan comes out of the oven, cut immediately, and then brownies can sit until ready to be lifted onto your serving dish (one of the virtues of baking paper!)

And here is the original recipe, typed up for me about 50 years ago by my mother, when I was getting ready to open my catering  shop, The Yum Yum Tree, and she sat and typed all my scattered random recipes so I could put them into a useful file.

I don't really expect you to be able to read this, so here it is:

    5 eggs     
    5 oz. baking chocolate   
    3-1/8 cups dark brown sugar (pack down well when measuring)
    1-1/4 cups flour 
    2-1/2 tsp. vanilla 
    2 cups chopped nuts (save about 1/2 cup to scatter on the top)

    Beat eggs and sugar. Add vanilla, chocolate, flour, nuts; stir as little as possible.
    Bake at 350° 20-25 minutes. Cut while still warm.

These freeze very well, properly wrapped.

Enjoy! Joan Datesman