Baking from scratch is a way of life for me. In my home, it's not unusual for there to be half a cake in the fridge, a bag of muffins in the freezer, a pan of brownies on the counter, and a loaf of bread in the oven for dinner.
But it wasn't always that way. I remember in middle school and high school we relied heavily on box mixes. There was the period of "The Cake Mix Doctor," where we'd go to elaborate lengths to modify and transform box mixes into something more exciting, unique and fun. At some point along the way, box mixes fell out of view as we became more and more committed to baking from scratch. After all, most baked goods rely on just a few key ingredients: butter, flour, sugar, eggs.
Now, I take pride in putting together a spread completely from scratch. But sometimes it can be a little embarrassing, like I'm trying too hard. (I feel particularly like this whenever I make crackers.) And then there are other times when (Maria, Sophie, please don't kill me!) I kind of sort of like the store-bought version best.
That's how I feel about brownies. Until now.
After my 3-month old was born, my husband was dutifully carrying on our home's baking-quota with his Ghirardelli box brownies (which, by the way, are the shiz), when my mom came down to visit, and we got onto the topic of how every brownie recipe is really trying to be a box mix. That's when she broke in with her discovery of a new brownie recipe, a recipe that rivals the Ghirardelli box mix, and one that has stopped the fudgey/cakey brownie debate in its tracks. We were skeptical. So she went to the kitchen pronto and whipped up a batch.
Not too dense, not too cakey, with a cocoa flavor that's deep but doesn't come on too strong, this is now my favorite brownie recipe. I've made this recipe at least six times in the last two months--and twice in the past week. While there are still some recipes I prefer for specific things (watch out for my Peppermint Brownies come Christmas time!), this is my perfect, everyday, brownie satisfaction.
One-Bowl Cocoa Brownies
With a deep chocolate flavor and a crumb that strikes the middle ground between fudgey and cakey, this brownie comes together in a matter of minutes, transforming a 9pm "I want a brownie" quickly into a 9:30pm "PUT THAT BROWNIE IN MY MOUTH!"
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) of sugar
2 sticks (8 oz) of salted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup (40 grams) of cocoa powder
1 scant teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup (6 oz) of chocolate chips
In a large glass bowl, melt the butter in the microwave, about 60 seconds.
While you let the butter cool, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 13x9" pan with parchment paper, allowing extra length to come up the sides so the baked brownies can be easily lifted out. Grease the lined pan.
Once the butter is cool, whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Stir gently with a spatula until just mixed. Toss in the chocolate chips and give it a few final stirs.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until just set, about 20-25 minutes.
Slightly adapted from the recipe by Food Network.