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Since writing about brownies a couple of days ago, I’ve had some requests for my favourite recipes for the delectable treats.
This first recipe is the one through which I learned to love the chewy squares. When I was a young girl, my best friend Sandra and I mixed up this particular concoction on dozens of occasions. With three cups of brown sugar, it’s not a brownie for the faint of heart or diet conscious. They’re also not as chocolatey as I like my brownies today. In fact – though I’m providing the original recipe below, if I were to make them now (I haven’t made them in years), I’d be tempted to increase the quantity of cocoa to 3/4 cup.
Extremely chewy. Best frosted (as if they needed any more sugar!) but a nice, rich, chocolate frosting adds to the overall decadence.
I remember as 13-year-olds, my friend and I used to laugh hysterically whenever we made them, referring to them as “Donkey Drops.” (That’s because one day while baking, we came across a recipe by that name – truly – and ever after, as we’d plop great dollops of the chocolate-brown batter into the pan, we’d exclaim, “Donkey Drops!!!” thereby amusing ourselves. What can I say? We were 13.) Wondering if a recipe for Donkey Drops could be still be found today, I conducted a quick search and found this one.
But back to the brownies. By request,
3/4 c. butter or margarine
3 large eggs
3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1 c. chopped nuts
Method: Melt butter. Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar, vanilla, and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Add flour and cocoa and mix well together. Add chopped nuts. Bake in a 9 X 13 pan at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes. Frost and cut while warm.
My sister Sandy discovered this next recipe during our young, single years when we shared an apartment in downtown Toronto together. She’s made them as a gift for me on more than one occasion – but the time that really stands out in my memory was about 12 years ago.
I’d literally just lost my best friend, Mary-Lou, when she and her family moved from their home about five minutes from ours to a new home in Red Deer, Alberta. The day after the moving truck pulled away, I awoke feeling completely bereft. But Sandy showed up at my front door with Heaven In A Pan, something she’d planned to do in discussions with Mary-Lou before the move.
Those brownies came to me as a hug across the miles from my friend, and as a hug across the threshold from my sister. They were a reminder to me of my friend’s creativity, my sister’s love, and that people who care for one another can find meaningful ways to show it, no matter how near or far they are.
They have been my favourite brownies, ever since.
Sandy’s “Heaven In A Pan” Brownies
1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Method: Melt butter. Add sugar and cocoa, stirring constantly. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add all at once. Pour into a non-greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees, for 30 to 35 minutes.
… really does make so many things better!
Especially the kind of chocolate that comes mixed up in a pan full of brownies. I love brownies. They’re my favourite way to make the world right when everything seems wrong.
My enthusiasm for the delectable, chewy, chocolatey treat began at the age of 13, when my best friend and I discovered the joys of baking. We’d get together at each other’s homes to while away a Saturday afternoon – or for a couple of hours on a weekday after school – and ask that age-old question kids often ask each other when they’re bored; “Whadda you wanna do?”
“I dunno. Whadda you wanna do?”
Baking was our default activity. If we couldn’t figure out anything else to do, at least we could create something wonderful to gorge ourselves on. Invariably, the something wonderful we’d bake was something called “Yummy Brownies.” And they were.
As a young, single woman, I shared an apartment with my sister. She discovered a new brownie recipe called “Heaven In A Pan.” And they were. On more than one occasion, Sandy made those brownies for me when she knew my world was off-kilter. A pan full of Heaven In A Pan was her way of saying, “I care.”
A couple of days ago, my world was starting to feel off-kilter once again. After having our eldest daughter Stephanie home for the past month to celebrate the holidays, we were preparing to take her back to university for second semester.
I’m realizing having university-aged kids means a constant adjusting; you adjust to them leaving, then adjust to them coming home for holidays, only to find you need to adjust all over again when they leave once more! It’s not that you mourn them when they’re gone, exactly, for you do find a new “normal.” It’s just that having them around feels like the really normally normal – or like “normal” should be.
I don’t dread Stephanie’s departures, exactly, because I know she is where she’s supposed to be. But I like having her home. So I often find as the time for her leaving draws near, and I look ahead to that other “normal” descending, I’m aware of an almost imperceptible feeling of sadness rising inside.
I was ever so slightly aware of it Saturday morning, when the entire family set out on the three-hour drive to Kingston. We were looking forward to making an outing of our day – with ice skating at City Hall – but the closer we got to Kingston, the more I found myself dreading saying “good-bye.”
Any feelings of melancholy evaporated, however, the instant we walked in the door of my daughter’s other home.
For just inside the door, on the table, was a note from Stephanie’s roommate, Katie. The note read “Welcome Home!” The first of the four roommates to arrive back in Kingston, Katie had left her message of love, welcome and friendship on a small square of plain white paper.
And in two pans of homemade brownies.