Fudgy Chocolate Brownies and The Story of the Forgotten Flour
One of my favorite stories from childhood is the one about the time I forgot to put the flour in a cake I was baking. No great disaster occurs in this story, so there is no need to feel anxious. It is a very strong childhood memory for me and one of those stories that gets retold often.
I was thinking about this story again today since I very nearly left the flour out of a double batch of brownies. (I’ve made a lot of brownies in my lifetime and no recipe has made me as consistently happy as the one from the original Baked cookbook.) I’m in the midst of Christmas baking and had several things going at once. I’ve very organized and I have the bowl of flour, baking soda and cocoa blended and waiting to be added to the chocolaty mix. I mix everything up, prepare my pans, pour in the batter (which does make me pause a moment, since it seems a little different in consistency) and into the oven, timer set. I then clean up that portion of the mess, and come across the bowl of flour. Luckily I cleaned right away, the pans had only been in the oven for a couple of minutes, out they came, batter back into bowls, flour added (NOW the batter looks right!), back to the oven. Lovely brownies 30 minutes later.
I laughed to myself and remembered the original story.
My sister and I were home from school on a snow day. Now, this was Wisconsin and snow days were very few and far between. This was EPIC snow. I have memories of being at bus stops with snow around my thighs. They did not give us days off easily, so you know the snow was serious. We lived in a cul-de-sac at the time, which meant the snow plows came into the circle and pushed all the snow to the back. Unbelievable piles of snow. This was the year that all the neighborhood kids dug a tunneled igloo fortress. It was fantastic.
The next fact in this story is that this was the 70’s, our parents were divorced and mom worked. Work did not get a snow day. Given where we were living at the time I was either 10 or 11 and I was the older sibling. This was truly fine, it really was. I might have been a stereotypical older sibling, responsible and all that, but we were truly fine.
The last bit of this story that I love is that we decided to bake mom a cake to surprise her when she got home. I loved to bake and did it easily and naturally. Nothing fancy, but I firmly felt that if a recipe existed, and you followed the steps laid out, then anyone could bake. I still feel that way today.
So, we mixed up the cake and put it in the oven. My sister wanted to go outside where the massive fortress was underway, and so she did while I stayed inside to mind the cake in the oven. (See, we were fine.) As I checked the cake I thought, it doesn’t look right. It’s bubbling rather than looking smooth and cake-like. (It was a chocolate cake – I’m sure the recipe probably came from the Joy of Cooking – actually, I might go see if I can figure out which recipe it was!) I kept checking the cake and I got nervous. Something was not right. But, we said we were going to surprise mom. But, I needed mom’s advice. So, while my sister was fort building, I called mom at work. Made her promise not to tell baby sis and told her my problem. She made me list out all the ingredients…and then I figured out that I had left out the flour. I was basically making chocolate candy in the oven. She told me to pull it out and let it cool and that it would all be fine.
And do you know what? She came home from work, acted surprised (I’m actually not entirely sure my sister knows to this day that I called mom that day) and ate the chewy, chocolatey mess. It was actually pretty tasty.
So, in honor of that mess I give you today’s near mess. And perhaps I’ll find the original chocolate cake recipe soon and we’ll do that too.
Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
Perfect every time, dense and fudgy
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 11 oz dark chocolate chips or coarsely chopped
- 2 sticks unsalted butter cut into chunks
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 5 eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanila extract
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9x13 glass baking pan. Start a pan of water simmering on the stovetop.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso in a large metal bowl and set it over the saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until everything is melted and smooth. Turn off the heat but keep the bowl over the water. Add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from on top of the pan.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and do the same. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
Let them cool completely before slicing and serving.
I let these brownies cool completely, then refrigerate them for a few hours or overnight. Then I slice them and serve. They get nice and dense and chewy this way, though they are perfectly delicious without the refrigeration step.