A woman I knew only as Nicky looked deep into my eyes and nodded knowingly. "Only a Pisces on the cusp would say that."
I asked her how she knew. She said certain traits belonged to certain signs. According to my birthdate, I was born on a rising sign which made my destiny special. I was a wonderful homemaker, excellent cook, and fine seamstress. That wasn't a destiny. It was a sentence!
from Aunt Erma's Cope Book: How to Get from Monday to Friday . . .in 12 Days
by Erma Bombeck
|My son took this picture for me, that's why it is so much better than all the others.|
I've read every Erma book at least twice. When I was pregnant with my son I devoured the books like they were the last chocolates on earth.
I had copies of What to Expect When You're Expecting, The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and Natural Childbirth, the Bradley Way. But, I barely skimmed these books, tossing them aside in favor of Erma Bombeck.
Her writings were the equivalent of a memoir from a soldier in the trenches. She knew, man. Who needs fusty old Dr. Sears when I could read about someone who tried to save money on groceries by making chicken necks, tied together like a raft and set afloat on a sea of blue colored rice! Now that is Hall of Fame worthy! Speaking of, there should be a Housewife's Hall of Fame, dontcha think?
Anyways, this recipe for cocoa powder brownies has been floating around the internet for a while. I first read about them on Smitten Kitchen about a year ago and was struck by the look of the brownies, almost black and impossibly fudgy.
I had a tried and true recipe using baker's chocolate (the recipe was on the inside of the cheery orange box) and I had a hard time imagining a brownie that could be as good as one that uses tempered (fancy schmancy word for melted) chocolate.
But these brownies are soooooo good. Imagine the best brownie in the world and then double it. A little bitter and densely chocolately in a way I've never experienced before. Like a flourless chocolate cake (in fact these do have just 1/2 cup of flour) spliced with a salted chocolate truffle, an intensely bittersweet chocolate experience that makes you crave just one more (I ate four and feel a little bit ill now, actually. Ohhh, my poor tummy).
So here they are, the best brownies in the world.
Best Cocoa Brownies
From Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Alice Medrich's book, Bittersweet
The recipe says it makes 25 small brownies, but in my house this batch made just sixteen
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter (I used half salted, its all I had)
1 1/4 sugar (I used almost all raw sugar, too lazy to go out and buy other sugar, plus it was super cold and the grocery store is sooo far away!)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts or pecans
Preheat the oven to 325 and move your oven rack to the middle. Prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Don't worry if the parchment wrinkles and doesn't entirely fit your pan. Jut plop it in with enough hanging over the sides for you to grab onto and pull once the brownies are baked (clean up is so easy).
1. In the top of a double boiler, or a clean glass bowl set over a bowl of slowly bubbling boiling water, melt the butter. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla and stir until some of the grittiness subsides.
2. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat of the stovetop and carefully stir in the eggs, one at a time. Now add the flour and nuts (if you are using them, if not forget it).
3. Once this is all mixed, pour, or rather plop the whole mess into the prepared pan. These brownies are thick, almost like a bread dough instead of a batter.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. If the brownies don't spread out, with flat even tops when they are done, don't stress yourself, as long as they pass the gooey test (a butter knife slid in comes out with fudgy crumbs and not slick, undercooked chocolate) they are done. Mine turned out kinda ugly this time, probably because I didn't use the right kind of sugar, but they tasted just as wonderful as always.
5. Cool the brownies for as long as possible (I stuck mine in the freezer for twenty minutes) before carefully slicing them into squares. Drop them on the floor for fuzzies or not (I didn't).