Easy Fudgey Brownies

Last week’s brownie recipe was sort of excessive — delicious, but not something most people could whip up with ingredients on hand (unless you always have 3 kinds of chocolate and Guinness on hand). This is something anyone can whip up quickly any day with ingredients on hand. Some years ago I was talking to a friend down the street; she had just gotten home from a bad day at work and was frazzled. As she went into the kitchen she was lamenting that she didn’t have any brownie mix because she really wanted a brownie right then. I blinked, then said, “Do you have…” and I rattled off the ingredients for brownies. She said yes to all the ingredients because it’s all very basic stuff that everyone usually has on hand. “Well, then you can make brownies. It’s easy.” She was skeptical. (At that time I had to skip two doors down and grab my recipe, but now I’ve got it on my phone along with all my other recipes.) She mixed up the brownies as I read off the recipe and presto! We had brownies! I remember she looked at me sort of dumbfounded and said, “If it was that easy, then why do we have mixes?” Why, indeed? A lot of pre-packaged food stuff is predicated on the idea that cooking (and baking in particular) is time-consuming and difficult…and that a mix is faster and easier. I’m sure there are examples in which this is actually true, but your basic brownie recipe isn’t one of them! You can have dense chocolatey brownies anytime you want them and the only difference in time and effort from using a mix is…you have to measure a few ingredients. (Oh, gosh, that’s so hard and it takes such a long time!) 😆 😉

This recipe used to be on the Hershey’s cocoa container, but it’s not on the one I’ve got on my shelf now. A slightly modified version is on the Hershey site and I’ve linked to it and added notes on how it differs from the original recipe I’ve been making for years. My recipe is slightly easier because you don’t have to melt butter (or margarine). Also, because it doesn’t have chocolate chips, it can be made from ingredients on hand. It’s stirred up with a spoon in a bowl. No mixer necessary!

Do you have…cocoa powder, baking soda, cooking oil, water, sugar, 2 eggs, all-purpose flour, vanilla extract, salt? You have brownies! 😀

Hershey’s Fudgey Dark Brownies

Notes: The original version called for 2/3 cups oil, divided, instead of using butter which must be melted. Pour the oil into a graduated measuring cup then pour 1/3 cup in with the cocoa and baking soda. Add the rest after the sugar and eggs. This recipe is unusual in that it uses boiling water. Don’t take a shortcut and use the microwave; it won’t work as well. The amazing fun thing is that the mixture you pour the boiling water into will foam as well as thicken. The one time it didn’t bubble up and thicken the brownies didn’t turn out very well and I put that down to the water being not quite hot enough. (I could be wrong, though.) The boiling water doesn’t slow down the prep time too much, however. Don’t add too much water to the kettle since you only need 1/2 cup. Measure and pour quickly. Use the time while the water is coming to a boil to grease a 13″ x 9″ baking pan. (You should’ve started the oven preheating immediately.)

Unlike the recipe link above, my recipe has no chocolate chips in it. Nor does it have nuts, though I think chopped pecans were optional in the original recipe. I’m not that crazy about nuts in brownies though I usually have pecans on hand.

The original recipe says that this can be made in two 8″ square pans and baked for 30-32 minutes. I’ve never tried this.

These brownies are very dense and fudge-like in their texture. If you like your brownies more cake-like, this probably isn’t the recipe for you. But if you need a hit of chocolate after a long hard day, this will hit the spot! 😀

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Triple Chocolate Guinness Brownies

This is about the most decadent thing that you can make for St. Patrick’s Day. People go into fits of ecstasy with one bite. The original source for the recipe recommended topping the brownies with whipped cream, but as rich as these are, that would probably kill people. 😉

The original recipe (sometimes attributed to “Grace Neill’s”) despite being all over the internet, in magazines and even in a book, has some fundamental problems. Apparently I’m the only one who has ever actually made it because the error continues to be passed on, verbatum, in every copy of it I’ve seen. This version has the same ingredients, but the directions are mine. One odd thing about the recipe that apparently is not a mistake is that there’s no leavening in the recipe. No salt, no soda, no baking powder. I’ve made it this way many times. It makes a very dense rich brownie. Excellent with a pint of Guinness. 😀

4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz white chocolate
6 Tbls margarine (or butter)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups Guinness stout (I buy the pub-draught cans.)

Preheat oven 375. Grease 8″ baking pan with butter or margarine, or spray with PAM.

Break the bittersweet chocolate and white chocolate into 1/2 oz pieces and place in microwavable bowl with the margarine (which should be tablespoons, not a block, if you use stick margarine) and heat slowly in the microwave for 10-30 seconds at a time, depending on your microwave and setting. Always err on the side of less time if in doubt! If over-heated the chocolate will become grainy. Stir after each time you microwave. It doesn’t hurt it to set in the microwave for a little while between heatings, so after starting the microwave go ahead and …

Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. You will need to use a moderate to high setting depending on your mixer.

Sift together flour and cocoa powder while the mixer runs. Continue gently heating the chocolate-margarine mixture in the microwave until thoroughly melted and stirred together. Let cool somewhat. Remove from microwave and beat into the egg mixture–at a lower setting than that used to beat the eggs.

Beat the flour and cocoa mixture in next. Be careful adding this! Slow the mixer down to the lowest “stir” setting and only increase it when things are under control. Adding the cocoa mixture to a mixer that’s going too fast will result in a Trinity-blast type cloud of cocoa caroming up out of the blender, coating counter, floor, and the cook with a fine layer of powder! Scrape sides of bowl frequently during the entire mixing process so that all the chocolates are blended evenly.

Add the whisk attachment and whisk in the Guinness stout. If you don’t have a whisk attachment, use the regular beater. Be careful with the speed of the mixer; start slow.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Check with a toothpick. The toothpick should not be wet, but not completely clean either. When it’s done, the center of the cake is moist so the toothpick will not be as clean as when testing most other cakes. Set the pan on a wire rack and let cool. Cut and serve.