Easy brownies made with melted butter and cocoa, all in one bowl! These brownies are fudgy, moist, and so good!
When my friends in the Let’s Lunch club selected Grief Bacon: Your Comfort Food in Times of Great Stress/Grief as the theme for January’s post, I have to admit I didn’t immediately decide on you. I briefly considered mac and cheese, pondered mashed potatoes, and even debated with myself the merits of chocolate cake.
But my thoughts kept returning to you and I realized that there has never been anything else for me…it has always been you.
In those childhood days when others were running next door to play with friends, all I had were the dogs, the woods, and on lucky days…you. You were my friend out in the country when everyone else was in town having fun.
You made coming home from school something to look forward to.
As childhood morphed into adolescence, I changed. Everyone changed. But not you. You remained just the same. As my family scattered to the winds and as adolescent angst grew, so too grew your ability to offer comfort.
My friend and I would sit around her kitchen table every Saturday morning and offer up our sorrows to each other while you filled our voracious need for acceptance and love.
When my high school first love turned out not to be my Forever Love, you were there. As tears fell, you promised things would get better. And they did. My next love did turn out to be forever…or so I thought. I married that one, and you were there with us at the reception, letting me know that no matter what, I could count on you.
When that Forever Love decided the barmaid down the street was better suited to him than the woman who had borne him two children, I wanted to curl up in a bottle of wine and scream. But I knew if I fell into that abyss I would never stop falling. So instead, I turned to you and you were just what I needed. You listened. You comforted. You offered hope.
You might have made me fatter, but you weren’t going to send me to rehab.
As the years went by, I shared you with my boys. You were so quick and easy for a young single mom. You were always in a box gracing my pantry shelf, just hanging out and waiting for the next bad day. Or a great day. It didn’t matter to you. You were up for any extreme, be it a celebration or heartache.
When my little daughter-of-my-heart came along, you jumped in and helped convince her that I might not be the Wicked Stepmother after all. She now has your legacy to pass on to her someday children. And you helped cement my real Forever Love’s notion that I might be amazing…you just have a way of doing that.
You impress quietly whether you are frosted in your Sunday best or just plain Jane.
At every funeral, every tailgate, every party, every bake sale, every child’s special day at school, you are the ubiquitous guest who reigns supreme. You’re the first to be snatched and the first clean plate left behind. You are universally loved and, quite possibly, the secret missing ingredient to establishing world peace.
Who could argue and talk about war or nuclear weapons if you’re taking up space in their mouths?
These days I rarely pull out the box from the pantry, preferring instead to craft you slowly, with love and time. After all you’ve done for me, the least I can do now is give you my best effort. After all, in a few years I’ll be sharing you with my grandchildren and they need to know how magical you are.
And so, old friend, I salute you. I thank you. We’ve had quite a journey together. The best is yet to come.
This recipe was adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies recipe and is one of my favorite recipes for easy brownies. Just cocoa, butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Nothing fancy in these easy brownies, but it seems the technique of slowly melting the butter, cocoa, and sugar together causes some magical chemical thing to happen that makes these some of the best brownies ever!
I like to add my homemade caramel sauce with a little sea salt to make Salted Caramel Brownies—to die for!
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- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla or seeds from vanilla bean
- 2 cold large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, (optional)
- Position oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325. Line bottom and sides of 8×8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
- Place butter, oil, cocoa, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl and place bowl in a skillet of simmering water. (Remove skillet from the stove first.)
- Stir occasionally, until butter is completely melted and mixture is smooth and warm. Remove bowl from skillet.
- Stir in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stir vigorously after each egg. When batter is well mixed and shiny, add flour and mix well.
- Stir for 50-60 strokes with a wooden spoon, scraping down sides of bowl and incorporating all the flour and cocoa. Stir in nuts if using. Spread batter in prepared pan and place on lower oven rack.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a little batter. Remove pan and cool completely on a rack, then lift foil out of pan and transfer to cutting board.