Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies

Confession: I am one of those adults who positively loathes Halloween. This Saturday night, you will not see me at any costume parties or roaming the crowds of the West Village Halloween Parade. And as there are no children in our building, I won’t be handing out any candy either. As a nanny though, I’ve had to learn to feign interest for the sake of some sweet little friends of mine. For the last four years, I’ve helped squeeze tiny people into itchy costumes, stood in line to get professional photos taken to commemorate that year they dressed up as turtles and cried for six hours straight, and even once taken them trick-or-treating…and that’s all before the sugar-induced meltdowns. Needless to say, I’m a little relieved that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year so I can stay home with Henry, who feels the same way. But for all the grimacing I do on those days, I have to remember that I loved Halloween when I was little. I dressed up as two Disney Princesses, Queen Guinevere (in a vintage purple velvet bridesmaid’s dress that once belonged to my Aunt Jerry Beth), and Mother Teresa. Yes, when I was thirteen, I trick-or-treated as a nun. My mother worked at a church, so my little sister and I had to come up with costumes based on what we could find in the acolyte room. My childhood friend, Christina, went as Dolly Parton that year–we were quite the pair.

All that is to say that I love candy. I have no problem going through someone else’s haul to steal all of the Twix bars and Reese’s Cups. I especially dig candy corn and those little mallow creme pumpkins. I’ve scoured the shelves of the Target Halloween aisle four times in four weeks, and have eaten more sugar than I care to admit. And I’ve finally found a way to get even candy corn-haters to enjoy the stuff–baking it into what I call “platinum” blondies. I’ve figured out that it’s the texture of candy corn that grosses out so many people. And it makes sense–it’s chalky, chewy, and overly sweet, gets stuck in your teeth, and tastes nothing like the “real honey” advertised on the bag. By baking it though, it melts and mellows, ceases to be chalky and gets extra chewy. Combine that with a soft and chewy sugar-cookie-meets-brownie bar, some sprinkles (because sprinkles!) and a vanilla glaze, and you’ve got the perfect no-mixer-needed treat for your Halloween celebration.

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These platinum blondies are so, so simple. They start with melting butter and combining it with regular granulated sugar. Whereas most blondie recipes use brown sugar and are therefore a golden brown color, these remain a pale yellow–platinum, if you will. Next come two large eggs, plus a yolk. The extra egg yolk is needed to make up for the moisture lost by not using brown sugar. Then comes a hefty amount of vanilla and just a touch of imitation butter extract. Yes, imitation butter extract sounds gnarly, but it gives these bars a Funfetti cake mix flavor without actually having to use cake mix. If you don’t have any, or just aren’t into it, you can leave it out without the final product suffering. Next we fold in the flour and salt, followed by the candy corn and sprinkles. Then we spread the batter in a prepared pan and bake at 350F for half an hour. The cooled blondies are sliced and drizzled with a simple vanilla glaze, then topped with more sprinkles (because more sprinkles!) and candy corn. Yum!

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies are the perfect dessert for your Halloween celebration this year. Whether you are attending a party, wandering your neighborhood with your children, or ignoring all of it at home with your favorite person and your Netflix account, you’ll love these blondies! Happy Halloween, indeed.

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies

Halloween Candy Corn Platinum Blondies
makes one 9×13″ pan, about 30 blondies

Platinum Blondies:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon imitation butter extract, optional
2 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1 cup candy corn
1/2 cup sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)*

Vanilla Glaze:
5-6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
additional sprinkles, for decorating*
additional candy corn, for decorating

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13″ pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhand on the short ends of the pan. Grease the aluminum foil. Set prepared pan aside.

Melt butter on the stove or in the microwave. Let cool slightly.

Pour sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter and whisk until combined. Add in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, incorporating completely after each addition. Whisk in vanilla and optional imitation butter extract.

Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold the all purpose flour and salt into the butter & sugar mixture. Gently fold in the candy corn and sprinkles. Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter three or four times to remove air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let blondies cool in the pan for thirty minutes, then use the foil overhang to remove them to a rack to cool completely (about an hour). Once they are cool, peel off the foil and cut into 30 pieces.

Place cooling rack over a piece of wax paper to collect drips. Place blondies back on the rack.

In a small bowl, whisk together heavy cream and vanilla. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt until smooth. Using a squeeze bottle or a fork, drizzle glaze over blondies. Decorate with additional sprinkles and candy corn. Let glaze dry for an hour or two, until it is no longer shiny and is a little bit hardened, before packing into an airtight container for storage. These keep well covered at room temperature for up to three days.

Notes:

  1. Please use jimmies here. Non-pareils (the little round ball sprinkles) are not recommended for the batter as they will bleed their color.
  2. Non-pareils or jimmies are a good choice here.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

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While I don’t often work in the mornings, I make a point to get up by 8am on weekdays. I have a sort of pattern that I follow nearly religiously, which goes as follows. Every weekday morning, I make a trip to my local bodega to get a coffee. I’m one of those that would love to make coffee, but has to be caffeinated to do so, lest I break the French press. I’ve gone to the same place for so long that the owner, Mr. Moon, no longer has to ask for my order; the only question is “Hot or cold?” Then I head home, turn the radio to BBC World Service News Hour (nerd alert!), and eat a bowl of granola with Icelandic yogurt, fruit, and a drizzle of maple syrup. I make granola in three-quart batches every few weeks, and go through it 1/2 cup at a time. But on the rare day that we don’t have a jar-full on top of the fridge, I make a trip to Bien Cuit for a coffee and a pastry.

Bien Cuit is a fantastic bakery on Smith Street in Boerum Hill. They make beautiful breads and pastries that change with the seasons; I am partial to the Tebirke (a flaky pastry filled with almond paste and rolled in poppyseeds) and Apple Cardamom Danish, but I’ve enjoyed nearly everything in the pastry case. And if that’s not enough to convince you to find a reason to go there right this minute, the baristas make one hell of a cappuccino. By the cashier, you’ll find a few cookie jars. They all look wonderful–and with flavors like Almond Sable and Malted Muesli, how couldn’t they be?–but the jar that always catches my eye is Diamond Chocolate Chip Shortbread. While I notice them every time I go to pay for my breakfast, I’ve never gotten one. Instead, I just dream about them while I go about my day. There are worse things to daydream about than crunchy, buttery cookies chock-full of miniature chocolate chips.

When Henry and I were invited to dinner at our friend David’s last week, I was asked to bring something simple to go with after-dinner tea. The first thing to come to mind was that jar of chocolate chip shortbread. I got to work making my own version. The result was just what he asked for: simple little cookies with the flavor of a chocolate chip cookie and a crunchy texture perfect for dunking in tea or coffee.

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These really are the simplest cookies. They start with creaming room temperature butter, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. We use 3 parts brown sugar to 1 part granulated to ensure the rich caramel flavor of a great chocolate chip cookie. Then, we add in a little vanilla to round out the flavor of the cookie itself. The next step is adding flour and salt in two installments, followed by folding in miniature chocolate chips. The dough will seem very crumbly, but should hold together when you pinch some together. Then we divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log, wrap it in plastic, and let chill for 45 minutes to solidify the butter and meld the flavors. When that time is up, unwrap the dough, and slice into 1/4″-thick rounds. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are no longer doughy and the edges are starting to brown. Then make yourself a pot of coffee or tea, and dunk away!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies keep well covered at room temperature for at least a week. They are a perfect casual dessert or afternoon treat for these colder months, and I think a little bag of them would be a great holiday gift with a pound of coffee and a cute ribbon! They would also make fantastic little ice cream sandwiches. Actually, that’s a great idea. I think I’ll go have one right now…

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
makes about six dozen

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed*
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips*

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.

With a hand mixer in a large mixing bowl, beat butter until it is light and fluffy (about two minutes). Add dark brown and granulated sugars followed by vanilla, and beat until they are completely incorporated. With the mixer running on low, incorporate flour mixture in two installments, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in mini chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half. Take one half and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap and clean hands, form the dough into a 9″ long x 1.5″ thick log. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate wrapped dough for at least 45 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Unwrap one log of dough. Using a large, sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough in 1/4″ installments and lay them on the prepared pans one inch apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops no longer look doughy and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool on the pans for for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking with remaining dough.

These keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Notes:

  1. Light brown sugar may be substituted.
  2. Regular-sized chocolate chips are not recommended.

Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies

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When I think of fall flavors, pumpkin and apple are almost always the first to come to mind. Warm and nicely spiced, these two flavors are perfect when the days start getting shorter and the wind gets blustery. There’s nothing quite like a pumpkin spice latte or an Apple Pie Cinnamon Roll to warm you up. But as these things become available earlier and earlier in the year, it is possible to tire of them before autumn is over. So, I am writing today to remind you of another fall flavor: maple. While you might not yet be bored of pumpkin and apple, you might need a little change of pace, courtesy of these Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies. Chewy, crunchy maple cookies are sandwiched together with a thick maple filling–perfect for your cookie jar.

These cookies are chewy with crunchy edges and a pronounced maple flavor. The dough begins with creaming room temperature butter, dark brown sugar, and a little granulated sugar until it’s all light and fluffy. Then we add in two egg yolks for chew, but no egg whites. Egg whites, in combination with a liquid ingredient like maple syrup, would make these cookies cakey, and why would we make cakey cookies when we can make chewy ones?! Egg whites also give structure to baked goods, so their omission will make these cookies a little thinner and flatter, perfect for sandwiching with creamy filling. Next up is a 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. This extra sweetener, in addition to the brown and granulated sugars, will allow for crunchy edges. Then we add a little vanilla and an optional touch of good-quality maple extract just to make sure there’s no doubt that these cookies are maple-flavored. Then comes the flour, a bit of cornstarch for tenderness, a dash of nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. The dough will be sticky and very thick. Cover it with plastic wrap and chill it for at least 90 minutes, until it’s firmed up and easy to form into balls. These cookies are small–only about one teaspoon each–since each sandwich cookie involves two of them plus the filling. They bake for 7-9 minutes at 350F, until they are no longer doughy and the edges are turning golden brown.

While the cookies are cooling, make the filling. Beat butter until it is light and fluffy, and then mix in confectioner’s sugar and a little salt for balance. Then add in maple syrup, vanilla, and optional maple extract. That’s it! Super simple. The result will be a very thick paste, much denser than a buttercream frosting. If it’s too fluffy, the filling will squish out the sides of the cookie when you take a bite. While that would still be delicious, it would also be a mess. Cookie-eating should not be followed by having to change your shirt. When you bite into these cookies, the filling will stay intact. I recommend using a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off to pipe little circular dollops of filling onto the cookie. If you are not comfortable with a piping bag, an offset spatula will do the job.

These cookies will keep very well covered at room temperature for up to five days. The flavor and texture will actually get even better on the second day! Make a batch of these for your cookie jar so that you can grab one or two to have with your coffee or tea. They’ll be a welcome treat after a cold, windy fall day.

Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies
makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 tablespoons real maple syrup, preferably Grade B Dark Amber
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)*

Filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars until completely combined. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Then mix in the maple syrup, vanilla, and optional maple flavoring. Turn the hand mixer to low, add in the flour mixture in two installments. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop the dough in one teaspoon increments. Roll dough into balls, and set them two inches apart on your prepared pans. Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, until the tops no longer look doughy. Let cool on the baking sheets for 7-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process until all dough has been used.

To make the filling, place the shortening or butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed. Once it’s smooth, add in 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla, and optional maple flavoring. If you’d like the filling to be thicker, add an additional 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. If you would like to pipe the filling, place it in a plastic sandwich bag, and snip off a corner.

There are two options for filling.

  1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
  2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

These cookies keep well covered at room temperature for up to five days.

Notes:

1. I use Boyajian Maple Flavor.

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

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I woke up at 7:30am yesterday needing apple pie. This wasn’t just a craving–I needed it. Quickly. And for all the great things that can be said about pie, its speed of preparation is not one of them. My first thoughts were putting apples in oatmeal, or making an apple compote to go over yogurt. And while both of those are great options, they just sounded too…healthy. So instead, I stuffed all the flavors of apple pie into cinnamon rolls and ate two before 10:30am. It was the right thing to do.

These rolls are just…so good. The dough is soft and sweet, with a little extra chew and puff from the addition of bread flour. The filling is full of soft apples, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. And the glaze. Oh, the glaze! It’s made with fresh pressed apple cider and touch of heavy cream to bring these rolls over the top. The very best part? They can be on your table in two and a half hours or less without too much effort. The recipe is long, but there is very little active prep time. Perfect for a lazy autumn weekend breakfast. Or, if you’re me, an autumn Thursday morning breakfast.

Let’s start with the simple yeast dough. Yes, I used “simple” and “yeast” in the same sentence. Yes, I did it on purpose. Yeast can be intimidating–I was too afraid to try working with it until three years ago when I watched my boyfriend fearlessly make fantastic pizza dough. After that, I decided to be brave and make some myself, and you know what? Yeast is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just another leavener, like baking soda or baking powder. For this recipe, we use instant yeast, which is even easier to use than regular active dry yeast. To make the dough, you just stir together all purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, salt, and one packet of instant yeast. You warm milk, water, and butter just until it is hot to the touch, and then stir that and an egg into the flour mixture, adding a little more flour to achieve a soft, smooth dough. Knead it all for five minutes or so, then let the dough rest for a few minutes. This is only a rest–because we are using instant yeast, this dough only needs one rise! While it’s resting, make the filling.

To get the soft-but-not-gummy texture of good apple pie filling, sauté apples in butter for twenty minutes. While those are cooling a bit, stir dark brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and a little salt into softened butter. Then roll out your dough, spread on the butter, and sprinkle it all with the soft apples. Then all you have to do is roll up the dough, slice it, and place it in a pie plate to rise for 60-90 minutes, until the rolls have doubled in size.

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Take a break. You just made scratch cinnamon rolls–you deserve a break. Make yourself some coffee, read the paper, stalk your friends on Facebook. When the rising time is up, put the rolls in a 375F oven for 30 minutes while you make the glaze.

The glaze is super easy and totally amazing. Just stir together apple cider, heavy cream, and vanilla, then whisk in confectioner’s sugar and a pinch of salt. That’s it. Easy. You can make it as thin or thick as you like by adding more apple cider or confectioner’s sugar. When the rolls come out of the oven, pour the glaze over, put a roll (or two) on a plate and prepare for pure autumnal breakfast bliss.

imageThese keep well for two days, covered at room temperature. The glaze may soak into the rolls, but they will still be soft, sweet, and totally decadent when you grab the last one out of the pan on your way to work on Monday. The apple flavor will even improve over time. Make these for your family and friends this weekend! And invite me over, please 😊

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Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Easy Cinnamon Rolls and Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls on Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes 13 rolls or one 9″ round pan

Filling:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 large apples, peeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice*
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Dough:

1 1/4-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast*
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk (I use whole milk)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, room temperature

Glaze:

1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Start making the filling. Cut four tablespoons of butter into small cubes and set aside to soften.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium sauté pan over low heat. Add in diced apples and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft. Spread apples on a plate and set aside to cool until they are no longer hot to the touch.

Mash softened butter cubes with a fork. Stir in dark brown sugar, spices, and salt. Set aside.

Start making the dough. Set aside 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, bread flour, granulated sugar, salt, and yeast. In a small saucepan*, heat water, milk, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter over low heat until the mixture reaches 115F. Remove from heat and stir into the flour mixture. Stir in egg. Add reserved all purpose flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the dough is smooth and soft*, pulling away from the side of the bowl when stirred. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease a 9″ pie plate and set aside. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll dough into an 8″x14″ rectangle. Spread softened butter mixture over the entire surface of the dough. Spread apples over the softened butter.

Starting at the long edge of the dough furthest from your body, roll the dough tightly toward yourself until you have one long tube. Using a large, sharp knife (not serrated) cut 1″ rolls. Place cut rolls in prepared pie plate. Loosely tent with foil.

Place rolls in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 60-90 minutes, until they have doubled in size.

Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, tenting with foil at 15 minutes if the tops are getting too brown.

Mix together the glaze. Stir together apple cider, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Using a fork, whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt until smooth*. Pour over warm rolls. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. I use one tart apple, like Granny Smith, and one sweet apple, like Honeycrisp.
  2. I use Fleischmann’s RapidRise Instant Yeast.
  3. If you do not have bread flour, all purpose flour may be substituted. Your rolls may not be as soft and chewy as if you’d used the bread flour, but they will still be delicious.
  4. You can also heat the milk mixture in the microwave in 20 second increments. I do not have a microwave, so I do not know how long it will take to reach 115F.
  5. I usually need 6 tablespoons of the reserved flour to achieve the desired consistency.
  6. Add more apple cider or confectioner’s sugar for a thinner or thicker glaze.

The Second Best Brownies in the World {First Post}

Cocoa Brownies

My dad makes the best brownies in the world.

That may sound like a grand statement, but in my humble opinion, it’s the truth. He was the only person who ever baked in my house growing up, and his specialty was brownies. Whenever he got a craving for chocolate, he’d whip up a batch and we’d all spend the following days evening out edges and making brownie sundaes with Blue Bell Ice Cream and chocolate syrup. They were soft and fudgy (but never too gooey), and the crackly top of each batch always had something spelled out in pecan halves. Often it was “E1,” “E2,” or “E3,” his nicknames for my sisters and myself. On our beloved housekeeper’s birthday, you would see a pecan mosaic spelling out “Eula.” It was always an occasion. When I was applying to colleges in 2002, my first three acceptances came from schools in Oklahoma. I came home from school to find a huge pan-full with “OK” spelled out in pecans. I didn’t end up going to any of those schools, but I still remember those brownies.

Before I get to the recipe, you should know something. My dad’s brownies came from a box. Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, generic–whatever was in the pantry. I would love to say that the best brownies in the world come from an old family recipe, but that would be a lie. Sometimes the best doesn’t mean the finest ingredients or the most complicated. My dad’s brownies are the best because he made them with us in mind. They’re the best because he took the time to tile out our names in pecans because he loved us and was proud of us. They’re the best because my dad is the best. It’s only appropriate that I would write my first blog post with him in mind.

On the chance my dad doesn’t frequent your kitchen, here are what I consider the second best brownies in the world. They are fudgy and rich, gooey but not over the top. They’re made with brown sugar in addition to granulated to give a little extra chew and complexity from the molasses. What really makes them the best is their simplicity: there’s no melting of chocolate over a double boiler, no need for a mixer, and only marginally more work than stirring together boxed brownie mix. Just ten minutes to mix them up, thirty in the oven, and a few more to cool before you can dive face-first into a brownie sundae. Once they’ve cooled completely, they slice like a dream and are perfect for tucking into lunches.

Make these for someone you love and are proud of, even if it’s just yourself. And don’t forget to write something in pecans. It’s what my dad would do.

Cocoa Brownies in Pan

Cocoa Brownies

adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8×8″ pan*

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
pecan halves for decorating, optional

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8×8″ square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.
Melt butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir butter, sugars, and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one-by-one, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs.

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before inverting to release. Slice into 16 or 25 squares. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. A 9×9″ pan may be substituted, but the baking time may be slightly shorter.
  2. I often use a mixture of natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powders, but using all of one or the other is fine. Use whatever you have on hand.