Like many women in America, I spent afternoons tumbling around outdoors and playing with stuffed animals in my bedroom. Noelle, my younger sister, was my constant companion as we stormed imaginary castles, pedaled ferociously down our block, and licked popsicles until our tongues turned bright red.
But one afternoon each week, I did something special. Girl Scouts. Many of my earliest memories revolve around my three years in Girl Scouts. We visited pumpkin patches, we painted pottery, and we went on long walks through the bird sanctuary near my elementary school. We laughed and fought and ran to our moms when they came to pick us up at 5:00. We ate and sold Girl Scout Cookies in our neighborhoods, knocking timidly on door after door.
As a Daisy, I wore a bright blue apron. My mom tried to tame my curly hair with a big white bow. Looking back on the photographs, I find myself adorable. But as a 5 year old, my blue apron only seemed baby-like. More than anything, I wanted to graduate from blue apron and frizzy hair to brown sash and long braids. Always eager to be older than I was, I pined for my Brownie Days.
So in honor of Girl Scouts, of younger sisters, nieces, daughters, or of the little girl inside of you, I give you a classic--the brownie.
I have posted a few brownie recipes on this blog. If you visit my index, you can see that I love sharing the more unique variations of this beloved treat. But everyone needs a classic brownie recipe--a recipe that is simple (almost as easy as using a boxed mixed) and produces a decadent and chewy plate of brownies.
This is one of my go-to favorites. Simple and delicious. In less than 20 minutes, I can have a batch of homemade brownies in my oven. They taste better than the boxed variety, and the joy of making these from scratch is compounded with your first, chocolate-filled bite.
Whenever my Grammy came to visit, she always brought Noelle and me a foil-wrapped package of homemade brownies. And perhaps her weekly gift influenced my desire to leave my Daisy days behind. All I know is that the word "brownie", in all of its connotations, still brings a smile to my face.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. These brownies are for the little girls and boys who dream of graduating, growing up, doing something great. You’ll get there, I promise.
*Adapted ever so slightly from Cooks Illustrated
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
A handful of chocolate chips (why not?)
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Create a foil sling, by fitting two pieces of foil into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more).
3. When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.
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