Monday, May 16, 2011

Baking can be quite intimidating for those who are inexperienced in the kitchen. Like all good skills, it's best to build your ability gradually. As you start to learn the basics, you may try out new recipes that have more steps, that utilize trickier techniques or that may require more sensitive ingredients, but, point in fact, everyone has to start somewhere. One of the best, first dishes that a beginner can make is brownies. Below is a simple recipe that has been in my family for years. It's not very complex, but, boy is it satisfying.

Sara Lee Brownies

4 oz. unsweetened Chocolate (e.g. Baker's)
2/3 cup Margarine
2 cups Sugar
4 room-temp Eggs
1 1/4 cup Flour
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup chopped Pecans

4 oz. unsweetened Chocolate (e.g. Baker's)
4 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup room-temp Margarine
2 tsp Vanilla
1/3 cup Milk

Melt the unsweetened chocolate and margarine in a large bowl in the microwave, about 2 minutes. (Tip- Make sure all the bits of chocolate have completely melted; the chocolate must be velvety smooth.)

Stir in the sugar. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually fold in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). Lastly, add in the chopped nuts. (Tip- do not over-mix the batter otherwise it will get chewy.)

Pour into a greased 13 x9" pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting. Begin by melting the chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the butter and vanilla.  Beat until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and a splash of milk. Mix well. Gradually add in the rest of the milk until it reaches the desired consistency- you want it to be thick but still spreadable.

Once the brownies are done, set them on a rack to cool. Immediately coat the top with your chocolate frosting.

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