Today, I want to share with you the only brownie recipe you will ever need in your life. None of this light and fluffy cakey nonsense. These are hardcore fudgy brownies worthy of a whole glass of milk (provided, you know, that you’re not lactose intolerant). The best and worst thing about this recipe is that you can go from, “Gee, some brownies would be really nice,” to OM NOM NOM in under forty-five minutes, with items you probably have in your cupboard right now.
Before I give you the goods (Patience, Iago, patience!), I have a story. Early on in my friendship with my best friend, she was having a rough time of it. I picked her up on her way home from class and took her to my apartment so she wouldn’t have to be alone. We talked for a bit, bitching and such as you do, and I suggested whipping up a batch of brownies. Now, she is not much of an experienced baker and didn’t want to be a bother, but I insisted. We continued to chat, and all of a sudden, BAM! We had brownies. She was amazed that it happened like magic. In fact, I think she keeps me around just for the prospect of spontaneous brownies. [Note: When I showed her a draft of this, she said, “Spontaneous brownies? Please make spontaneous dissertation chapters!” I guess my duties as a bff have increased over the years.]
This recipe is one of the few I have memorized; it’s my quick and easy go-to dessert when I need a chocolate fix or forgot I was supposed to bring something to a party. If you’ve never baked before or are looking for a way for your kids to get their hands dirty, these brownies are a great place to start because they’re easy to do, hard to mess up, and there’s not much to it. As a note, I originally came across a version of this in Taste of Home, that staple of comfort food and American grandmas, but I’ve stripped it down a lot over the years.
And now that I’ve sufficiently built them up, here is how you make…
Baseballchica03’s Heart-Stoppingly Delicious Fudgy Brownies
[makes one 8×8 square pan; 9×9 will work but you’ll have a thinner brownie]
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp butter, softened (NOT melted)
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
add-ins like chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, nuts (if desired)
confectioner’s sugar (if desired)
You may look at that ingredient list and say to yourself, “My, that’s an awful lot of butter.” Not to be all Paula Deen about it, but it is! That’s what makes them so fudgy instead of fluffy and cake-like. You can fiddle with the proportions a bit if you want. A little less butter will make it less rich, but I wouldn’t stray any less than 2/3 at the bare minimum.
The rest of the recipe is really pretty standard as far as baking goes. Cream the butter and sugar, add the vanilla and eggs, mix all the dry stuff together, then add the dry to the wet a little bit at a time. Mix it just well enough to get all of the dry stuff incorporated. If you stir it too much beyond that, the brownies will start to get tough-chewy instead of delicious-chewy.
Technically, you could just toss it all into a bowl and mix it up, but baking is a lot more like chemistry than cooking is. As a general rule, creaming butter and sugar with vanilla, and adding the dry parts to the wet parts last gives baked goods like brownies, cookies, and cakes a better texture. The more you know!
At this point, you can fold in any mix-ins that you’d like after the batter is otherwise ready. Nuts can be tricky if you’re bringing the brownies to a party, but if you’re staying home and no one in your house objects, some crushed walnuts are amazing. Another fun one is mini M&Ms that you can pick up in the baking aisle at the grocery store. Or dried fruit, chocolate chips, even swirl in some raspberry preserves or a cream cheese filling to make a marbled brownie. The second best thing about this recipe is its versatility!
Finally, grease your 8×8 pan well and pour in the batter. You’ll probably need to smooth it around with a spatula to make it even. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes until the top looks dry and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Wait as long as you possibly can (about two minutes?) and dig in!
You can also dress these brownies up if you want. Wait until they’ve cooled completely and sprinkle with a little confectioner’s sugar for a pretty look. (You can even cut them first, make paper stencils, and dust designs onto the top.) They’re delicious with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream! They can also be frosted, but proceed with caution or face a mid-afternoon sugar crash. If you have leftovers (ha ha ha!), they’re pretty tasty plain after a night in the fridge.
I have a special note for boxed brownie bakers. Look at the ingredients list. Now back to me. Now back to the ingredients list. Now back to me. These are the brownies your brownies could taste like. You COULD add water, oil, and eggs to a box of powdered something you don’t know what it is. Or you could put flour, cocoa, sugar, butter, and eggs together for something vastly more delicious. It’s almost the same amount of steps. Think about it.
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for your brownie intake levels after reading this post. None!