Resist the Box: Brownies

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Making brownies from scratch is easy and fast, so I’ve always been perplexed as to why so many people think they need to use a box mix. I know I've said this many times before on this blog -- remember my macaroni and cheese, pudding and pancake rants? -- but before you resign yourself to a lifetime of box-mix brownies, just try making some from scratch first. You'll see that they don't take much more time and taste far better than the premixed variety. I'm not kidding. They are SO much better. Plus they’re also free of preservatives and hydrogenated fats. And, if you disagree, you can write a comment telling me I'm wrong and then just go smugly back to the box.

I admit you'll need to melt some chocolate, but don't let this stop you. Usually I use semisweet Scharffenberger, but as an experiment, I tried my recipe with chocolate chips instead. I did this because I have been told by some people (I'm not naming names, but you know who you are) that if they have to buy a "special" ingredient, they just pass on a recipe (not that semisweet Scharffenberger should be a special ingredient. As far as I’m concerned, it should be a staple in the pantry).

Another plus to using chocolate chips is that you can melt them with the butter in a microwave instead of on the stove. I tried to do this in an attempt to make this recipe even less demanding (because let’s face it; it’s not exactly fair for me to say ditch the box mix and then ask you to get out a double boiler), but then my microwave literally caught on fire. Yes. As I melted the chocolate and butter in a Pyrex dish, flames started shooting inside the microwave. It was a cheap one, bought at Costco around 6 years ago, so I figure it was simply it’s time to go. It meant, however, that I had to simmer some water in a pot and then place a metal bowl with my chocolate and butter on top to melt (which, honestly, didn’t take much time).

Following is my recipe. It's pretty straightforward and quick, uses chocolate chips, and doesn't require a double boiler if your microwave doesn’t catch on fire. So get out your flour, chocolate and butter and experience firsthand the decadent delight of easy homemade brownies.


pan of brownies


Makes: One 9x12 pan of brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt together the butter and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (either in the microwave or in a medium bowl over simmering water. If using the microwave, heat for 30 seconds at a time until the chocolate and butter start to melt. Stir and then heat another 30 seconds. Continue until everything is melted). Allow the chocolate and butter mixture to sit in a bowl on the counter.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs into the sugar and vanilla.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, stirring until just barely combined.

6. Add in the melted chocolate, butter and walnuts (if using). Mix until just combined. Finally, add in the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and stir.

7. Butter and flour a 9 x 12 pan and then pour the batter in. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a clean toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. Be sure not to overbake. If you want your brownies on the chewy side, underbake by around 5 minutes.

8. Cool and serve.