A few weeks ago I had an inkling for a good brownie. I wanted the recipe my mom made growing up, but I didn't think she was home. So I started perusing (or maybe it was "desperately searching") the internet for a recipe sounded similar. I wanted a brownie that wasn't too fudgy or too chocolatey. I didn't want it too cake like. I wanted a firm, slightly dense recipe with nuts. I wanted a recipe that didn't need frosting or anything else to make it delicious. Just a good, basic brownie.
In what may turn out to be a "much to my detriment" outcome, I found the perfect recipe and it was exactly what I was looking for. Shortly after that I realized I was short on butter & it was late and I had a kiddo in bed so that meant no leaving the house. But luckily I was able to half the recipe perfectly.
I've now made this recipe three times over the past month or so -- and that was holding myself back, let me tell you. There are a few things I've learned. First, make sure the pan is very well greased since these are a dryer brownie and second, I learned that larger chunks of walnut are much better than small chopped bits. As a child we always made the brownies with chopped walnuts. I was lucky enough to have a few bags of walnuts The Man's aunt gave us straight from a walnut farm in Northern California. I followed the recipe and took the walnut halves and just broke them into two or three pieces with my hands instead of chopping the walnuts. The brownies were better and the nuts were more tasty this way. There's something about sinking your teeth into a bite of brownie with a big chunk of walnut that is just amazingly delicious.
I cut back just a little bit on the amount of cocoa I used, maybe just a little less than 1/2 cup. On one batch I had just a little more than 1/2 cup and they quickly became a little too chocolatey for me. But that is all personal preference. Here's the third thing I learned although I refuse to admit that it was by personal experience (haha)-- don't even fool yourself into thinking your going to put some of these in the freezer for later on. Not happening.
Well, now that I think back I actually learned one other lesson - a somewhat horrifying one - after making these brownies. I learned there is something very, very wrong with The Man. He walked in after I made these one day and said, "Why did you make brownies?" What kind of crazy person response is that? A "normal" person would've responded perhaps like this "Wow! You made brownies! You should do this more often!!!" or "Brownies! You read my mind! These look amazing!" or "Brownies are the food of the gods! Give me the entire pan, I demand it immediately!" Apparently I have aligned myself with another human being who does not fully understand or appreciate the beauty of a perfect brownie. This is very bewildering and perplexing! I must now rethink some things. wink. wink.
This recipe would be perfect for making brownie fudge sundaes or with vanilla ice cream. It's an easy "make ahead" option for entertaining and easy to cut up in lovely shapes if you need to take a treat to an event. A light dusting of powdered sugar would not be bad at all, but I don't think these need it at all. It might make them more festive for a holiday event. Imagine cutting them out in the shape of a Christmas tree and then dusting them with powdered sugar. Cute...and crazy delicious... (Plus if you cut them into shapes you would be forced to eat all the edge crumbs!)
Lastly please note that the cooking time says 20-30 minutes. That's a little broad, right? For a full pan in my oven I set the timer for 25 minutes and then ended up going just about up to 30 minutes. I cooked the brownies until the edges pulled away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean. I am sure if you want them a little more fudgy you can just decrease the cooking time.
Quick and Easy Brownies
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
½ c. cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup walnut halves
1. Melt the butter or margarine and mix all ingredients in the order given.
2. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20-30 minutes in a 9x13 inch greased pan.
image also via allrecipes.com