Everyone has a couple of go-to dessert recipes, things that are easy to whip up and crowd favorites. For many of us in America, this includes chocolate chip cookies (usually the Toll House recipe with or without slight variations; personally I follow the recipe except use only one stick of butter – recipe gets raves and it’s a little healthier) and brownies.
There is a lot of debate when it comes to brownies, mainly between whether melted chocolate or cocoa is better. There are good reasons for both, and many recipes actually call for both to take advantage of those reasons.
I’ve tried many recipes, and enjoyed them all. But for sheer ease and popularity, my go-to recipe is one that I’ve had memorized for years. It comes from the back of the Saco cocoa container. My mother always bought Saco, and I continued to as well. One of the interesting things about it is that it is a mix of natural and Dutched cocoa, so you get the benefits of both. (I also tend to use those cocoas interchangeably, even though I understand they are different and probably shouldn’t be. Maybe one of these days I’ll get more high falutin’ about it 🙂 )
The reason I have it memorized it that it’s super simple. For an 8×8″ pan, melt one stick of butter (1/2 cup). Stir in 1/2 cup cocoa powder, then 1 cup sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and vanilla, then 1/2 cup flour and any mix-ins, and bake. See what I mean? Everything is the same except double the sugar. Plus, it scales up to a half sheet (equivalent to two 9×13″ pans) without adjustment or loss of quality.
I have almost always added something to the batter. One of my favorite additions is chopped pieces of Mexican hot chocolate bars, like Ibarra and Abulita. It is a little gritty in texture, which keeps it separate when the brownie bakes and masks a slight contrast of texture in your mouth. Sometimes I just add mint or white chocolate chips. Another kid favorite is marshmallows, chocolate chips, and graham crackers for s’mores brownies.
Lately, however, I’ve been adding chopped candy bars to the top. Very playful, and fun for both kids and adults. My favorite mix is Reeses, Snickers, Cookies and Cream, Butterfingers, and M&Ms. The M&Ms and Cookies and Cream add some color, and the Butterfingers scatter all over the surface and help make sure every bite has candy. The only trick with the candy is to freeze it after chopping, so that it holds up better in the oven. The only candy that doesn’t work well is Kit Kats – the wafers just taste stale.
This past week was back to school here in North Texas, and what better way to celebrate than with an easy recipe the kids can help with. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite brownie add-in or favorite back to school treat?
Recipe from Saco Cocoa
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) -- 2 sticks (1 cup) -- 4 sticks (2 cups) butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup -- 1 cup -- 2 cups cocoa powder
- 1 cup -- 2 cups -- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs -- 3 eggs -- 8 eggs
- 1 teaspoon -- 2 teaspoons -- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup -- 1 cup -- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon -- 1/2 teaspoon -- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup -- 1 cup -- 2 cups chopped nuts or other mix-in, optional OR
- enough mixed, chopped candy to cover the surface of the brownies