One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is brownies. All’s right with the world, it seems to me, whenever I see a pan of brownies on the kitchen counter. After all, if there’s flour, sugar, butter, chocolate and eggs with which to bake some brownies, things can’t be all that bad; most likely things are going merrily well. As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing.
I’ve often relied on a favorite brownie recipe whenever I want to bake this classic treat. However, while on a recent vacation in Sydney, I learned another recipe from my sister, Cory, who’s a long-time Sydney resident. While I thought my recipe was easy and very doable, hers turned out to be even easier and more doable.
The wonder of it is that this recipe evolved from a recipe I had given her many years ago. Out of the need to bake something really fast and without the fuss, she improvised here and there and voilà—a new recipe was born. What’s more, the brownies come out moist, with a fudge-like center, just like the way I (and many others) like them.
You won’t even need an electric mixer to prepare the batter. All you’ll need is a microwave oven to melt the butter and sugar, and a little muscle power to mix the ingredients.
Fast and easy brownies
2 c sugar
1 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c coarsely chopped nuts (cashew or walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350°F (175- 180°C). Lightly brush the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking pan (or two 8” x 8” baking pans) with shortening. Sprinkle with flour, then tap off excess flour. Or, spray baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Another alternative is to line the pans with nonstick baking paper. Set pans aside.
Combine sugar and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in a microwave oven until both butter and sugar are melted, around one minute. Remove from microwave oven (mixture will be grainy). Mix with a spoon then beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture and mix by hand just until combined. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (it’s okay if there are a few moist crumbs attached). Let cool, then cut into squares.
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Before putting the butter in the microwave, cut it into quarters so it melts faster and more evenly.
Don’t over-mix the batter so brownies don’t become tough. Mix just until there are no visible specks of flour.
Likewise, don’t overbake the batter so brownies don’t become dry.
If you’re baking this in two 8” x 8” baking pans, make sure to divide the batter evenly between the two pans.