Quick, convenience food. What types of food come to mind? Packaged dinners. Bags of chips or snack food. Canned fruits or vegetables. Baked goods?
Since when have baked goods become a processed item? The baking aisle of the grocery store is lined with boxes & boxes advertising cakes, brownies, muffins, bars that you can buy & add a few simple ingredients to (usually water, eggs, & oil). I won’t lie–I’ve used many a cake, muffin, or brownie mix in the past. They are quick & easy to whip up. I’ve always felt like I was cheating when I used a box mix. Its not really homemade if the majority of the food is from a box. A baked good from a box loses that special quality that homemade baked goods have. And really, baking from scratch doesn’t take that much more effort….and it is so worth it.
Let’s take a look at the ingredient list on a box of Betty Crocker brownie mix:
Sugar, Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Corn Starch, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Artificial Flavor, Gellan Gum, Nonfat Milk. Freshness Preserved by Potassium Sorbate. Chocolate Flavored Syrup: You will need: 1/4 cups water, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 2 eggs.
I don’t know about you, but that ingredient list sounds kind of scary.
Most brownies need just a few basic ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, & flour. There is really no need for strange ingredients such as “gellan gum”.
Let me share with you a very easy to whip up chocolate brownie recipe that Dave asked me to make. The original recipe is found here.
Heavenly Chocolate Brownies
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter (real butter, not margarine), softened
1 & 1/2 c. sugar (I’ve used cane sugar)
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
8 oz. high quality bittersweet chocolate, divided*
*With the chocolate, the website says to use bars of chocolate. I’ve tried Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate bars, chopping the bars into pieces, & the same version in a chocolate chip style. I prefer Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips because it is easier (no chopping the bars) & a bit cheaper to just buy an 11 oz bag instead of 2 4-oz bars. These are both found in the baking aisle of the grocery store by the other chocolate chips. Feel free to experiment with other chocolate as you see fit.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease & flour a 9×13 pan (I don’t have parchment paper, flouring works just as well).
In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, & salt until blended.
In a separate bowl, cream butter & sugar with a mixer on low speed until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until well blended. (*For all the steps above, I use my hand mixer, then mix in the chips by hand.) Mix in approximately 3.5 oz (just use your best estimate) of the chocolate chips. Spread into the pan. Sprinkle another 3.5 oz of chips over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes (in my oven, 35 minutes works perfectly). Once the brownies are cooled, melt 1 oz of chocolate (I use the microwave: 30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds & its melted). Drizzle chocolate over the brownies & let cool.