Monday, February 2, 2009

In Search of a Good Brownie Recipe

Where did it go? The recipe I've used for years, written on a stained note card that testified to its many uses, has disappeared.

I knew it by heart, really. I pulled it from the recipe box out of habit, but mixed the ingredients without looking at the recipe even once. You could do that when you had many sons who devoured a big pan of anything home-cooked and sweet within minutes of arriving from the school bus.

But the boys grew up and moved away. Big pans of brownies aren't good for middle-aged people; they tend to stay with you in places you didn't know you had. The recipe still lived in the box but only came out on special occasions, like when the grown-up sons and their families came home, or Christmas.

Last year it was gone. Just gone. Granddaughters were visiting and we were baking. We searched. My granddaughters emptied the recipe box and looked through all the recipes stuffed into it in semi-alphabetical order. Egg Foo Yung, a recipe from my sister Judy that I have not yet tried but have had for 20 years? It was there. The Dilled Zucchini recipe carefully typed on an index card by an elderly friend over 30 years ago? It was there. The recipe for making mayonnaise I wrote down when I was 20? It was there.

Everything was there except my brownie recipe. I tried to remember the recipe and it sort of worked. We wrote it down and called it Maybe Brownies. Because maybe they were sort of like my recipe. But they weren't exactly the same.

The missing recipe came from the back of a cocoa box in the 1970's. I know it started with 1/2 cup of boiled water. But after that? Cocoa, baking soda, probably salt, cooking oil, sugar, flour, vanilla, eggs. The usual ingredients but there was something about the order of them and how it was mixed that made this recipe special and the brownies delicious.

Now I'm on a quest for a new recipe. It has to be simple. It can't use baking chocolate because that's expensive and a lot of work. It has to be a cake brownie because that's the kind we like. And it has to be chocolate--that goes without saying, doesn't it?

So would any of you like to share your recipe with me? I will trade a CD of my storytelling for the recipe I like best. If it's my missing recipe, I will owe you forever. If it's one that turns out to be even better than my old favorite, I'll be amazed.

Any takers? Anyone with an absolutely no-fail, delicious, easy and low-cost brownie recipe who wants to share?
(Now watch that recipe card mysteriously return from its journeys after I find a new recipe I totally love. I'd almost bet on it.)


Country Whispers said...

I have many favorite recipes but have yet to come up with a GREAT brownie recipe. If you do find the missing one though, please share. It sounds yummy! Good Luck!

Susan said...

Back home in Ireland I have an American recipe book called 'The Back of the Box Recipe Cookbook' because it's a collection of many of those box recipes from the 50's-80's.

As you know, I'm thousands of miles away from it now! But I'll check when I get home, and who knows? If your recipe is there I'll send it to you as soon as I can.

Good luck with good brownie recipes; I ate one today left over from a Superbowl party and nearly cried when it was gone. That good.

Mary Garrett said...

I did a google search and found this one from I hope you will be sharing the winning recipe!
Buttermilk Brownies
2 c. sugar
2-1/4 c. flour
4 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 c. margarine
1 c. cold water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

BROWNIES: Sift sugar, flour and cocoa in bowl. In saucepan, bring to boil, water, margarine and oil. Pour over dry ingredients and beat until creamy. Add buttermilk, soda and eggs. Beat thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees in jelly roll pan for 18 minutes.

1 c. sugar
6 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. milk
Boil for 1/2 minute, take off heat. Add 1/2 bag chocolate chips. May add nuts if desired. Stir and spread on brownies.

Susan said...

If it's from a cocoa box all that time ago, might it have been Hershey's brownies? (my mother's old favourite which I found a few years ago here at

Even if it's not exactly what you're looking for, they're good!

Laura said...

I wish I had my grandmother's recipes here at home. I bet it's in them--of course searching through them is a journey. I think there is a whole box of loose recipes written on various pieces of paper and envelopes.
I can't help you with the recipe, I'm a box brownie girl. (There's probably a support group for that)

Janet, said...

I'm a box brownie person too. But I found a recipe that uses boiling water.

Fudgey Brownie

3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup veg oil
1/2 cup boiling water (measure accurately)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup unsifted all purpose flour
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

Stir cocoa and baking soda in a medium bowl. Blend in 1/3 cup veg oil. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup veg oil; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Pour into lightly greased 13x9x2" pan or two 8" square pans. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes for 13x9x2" pan, 30 to 32 minutes for 8" square pans. Cool and frost if desired.

Granny Sue said...

Susan and Janet, I think you both found the recipe I used! I didn't think about going to, although I have searched for it on Hershey's site. Thank you! It's not printed out and back in the box.

Mary, I might give your recipe a try too--it sounds interesting, the way the ingredients are cooked together.

As for box brownies, I'm not above them, and often keep a box in the cupboard for emergencies--like when surprise company shows up, or the grandkids want to bake and I'm not in the mood.

Cathy said...

I always use the One Bowl brownie recipe using the Baker's unsweetened chocolate squares. I hate washing dishes and one bowl and a pan is good for me.

Granny Sue said...

OK, Cathy, I think I need to try your one-bowl recipe. Care to share?

Karen Pierce Gonzalez said...

Okay, I'm going to start looking for my brownie recipe and if I find it, I'll send it your way.
I'm reminded,though, of one of your former posts: your journey with the beloved earrings you thought you lost but found inside the lining of a suitcase.
Who knows? Maybe the recipe will come back to you. Hope so!

Granny Sue said...

Karen, maybe it's in my suitcase! Stranger things have happened.

I'm excited because now I have a bunch of new brownie recipes to try, and none of them seem too difficult. It will take me a while to try them all--so how to pick a winner?

There's only one way, because I'm sure every recipe sent in will be delicious. I will put the names of everyone who sent a recipe or a comment into a hat and draw one! Because even the box brownie ladies tried to help, and I appreciate them too.

I will wait another day before doing the drawing. I know you're all just waiting with baited breath! (what is baited breath anyway? sounds fishy to me.)

Jaime said...

I can't find my recipe either. Must be a family thing. I bet its upstairs in my folder. I know it was similar to yours with the cocoa powder. Hmmm.... where is that?

Amy Shinn said...

Here's my brownie recipe:

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Shank's vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix in eggs, then add flour and cocoa (could add 1/2 cup of nuts). Spread into greased 9" square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the brownies are pulling away from the side of the pan. Let cool thouroughly. Spread Brownie Frosting on top, then cut with knife.

Brownie Frosting
3 tablespoons butter , softened
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Shank's vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons of milk

Mix, adding sugar and milk last.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...