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Life has been crazy busy with working, a little travel, and a huge garden project that had to be completed before any actual gardening could happen—remember the bovine invasion of last summer? All of a sudden (again), my little blog has grown dusty and forlorn. It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I practically don’t know where to start!  I think the best place though, is with the last of the Brownie Challenge recipes.

I’ve been promising, and it’s taken awhile, but here it is. I’ve made this one up a lot since I found it, and I have to say, it is my MOST favorite…for now anyway.  It’s easy to throw together—no more mess than a mix, really—and the end result is worth an extra measuring cup to wash up. The batter smells divine while you’re mixing it (if your idea of heaven includes chocolate), and once it hits the oven…oh my! There’s nothing like drifts of dark cocoa wafting through the house. Best air freshener ever!

These brownies are dense and chewy, with a quick, crisp, ‘bite’ to the crust. The cocoa taste is rich, dark and not-too-sweet. It’s a brownie that begs for a glass of ice-cold milk, or a really fabulous cup of coffee. Maybe both, because who are we kidding? You know you’ll eat more than one.


Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from smitten kitchen’s adaptation of Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwave safe bowl and microwave it until the butter is melted. Use a lower power setting, and stir occasionally to blend all the ingredients. The mixture should be warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon, then add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one. When the batter feels thick and is shiny and well blended, stir in the flour until it disappears. Then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool completely on a rack. Lift up the ends of the parchment paper, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares for serving.



And before I finish, I have to show you a picture of the new garden project! My husband did such a beautiful job of this fence, that I just have to show it off!

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Gorgeous, yes?  And hopefully, cattle proof.

One other thing I promised you—an ‘up-grade’ to box mix brownies…

1) Use a name brand mix. Store brands just don’t have the same flavor. My preference—and I’ve tried them all—is for Pillsbury. I always used the ‘family-sized’ (9x 13’ pan) in the plain chocolate or chocolate fudge flavor.

2) Substitute strong dark coffee for the water in the ingredients. Don’t worry, they won’t taste like coffee.

3) Add 1 Tblsp of unsweetened cocoa powder

4) Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract

5) Add 1/2 to 1 cup of good quality dark chocolate chips

6) If they’re ‘company brownies’, I frost them when they’re cool with whatever left-over chocolate buttercream I have in the freezer OR I ice them with the same thing, by spreading it on while they’re still warm.

I used a 9” by 13” glass pan, lightly greased, and baked them for 28 minutes at 325 degrees.

In a hurry to cut them? Use a plastic knife—the disposable kind for pic-nics and such—and the brownies will cut cleanly.

That’s it… a simple fix that adds a ton of depth and flavor!

Now it’s back to the kitchen to finish baking (the brownies for today’s blog, cookies for the husband while I’m out of town, biscotti to take to my Aunt, and something cake-ish) and then I’m out to the garden!

Thanks for visiting me, and love~