I don’t bake much in the summer in the city as my kitchen just gets unbearably hot and humid and I get unbearingly hot and grumpy. However, the temperature went from 100º last week to the low 60s this so I threw a batch of brownies in the oven so we could have an evening treat and I would have sweets to bring to my favorite baristas at JOE, our morning coffee bar.
I have been making the recipe since I was a teenager and it appeared in my first cookbook, The Gift-Giver’s Cookbook (written with my close friend, Jane Green in 1970) as Edna’s Brownies. It had been given to my mom by an Illinois cook named Edna Vogel who had used it as her go-to dessert for years. I assume that this recipe has seen more church socials, bridge parties, picnics, and backyard barbecues than we, altogether, can imagine. I think that it makes a wonderful cookie – today I added about half a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips that had become half a bag through my reaching in for a sneak treat. You can also add just about any type chip you like to the mix. I made the bars a bit thicker than usual – no matter – thick or thin – they’re delicious.
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnut or pecan pieces, optional
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Generously butter and floured an 11-inch by 7-inch baking pan or coat it with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat, on medium, until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. When blended, lower the speed and add the vanilla.
When well combined, gradually add the reserved flour mixture, beating to blend completely.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, slightly smoothing the top.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the sides begin to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool for about 15 minutes. Then, cut into squares, but leave in the pan until cool.
When cool, store, airtight, at room temperature, for up to a week.